Everything turned gold for Grigor Dimitrov as he reached the semi-finals of the Nitto ATP Finals with a 6-0 6-2 destruction of David Goffin in 74 one-sided minutes.
And the debuting Dimitrov said in front of the 02 crowd to the BBC’s Annabel Croft: “You get a few days out of the year that whatever you touch turns to gold, and that was the first set.
My movement was great, I was reading the game really well and believing in my shots. The next thing you know the match is over. I felt I could have played more. You have days like that, you work for those days. It is nice when it comes in such an occasion, I am humbled to win that match, Grigor Dimitrov
“My goal was to reach the weekend. Every match is very important to me. I am not here just to participate. It’s a special win for me.
“My movement was great, I was reading the game really well and believing in my shots. The next thing you know the match is over. I felt I could have played more. You have days like that, you work for those days. It is nice when it comes in such an occasion, I am humbled to win that match,”
Goffin had overcome Rafa Nadal two days earlier in the end-of-season event on the indoor court of the 02 Centre, albeit with the world No.1 under par and withdrawing from the tournament immediately afterwards.
But the Belgian was bothered and bewildered as Dimitrov, continued a season in which he had, according to BBC commentator Andrew Castle, “grown up” after years of promise with Dani Vallverdu, former coach to Andy Murray, coming on board in August, 2016.
The Bulgarian lifted his first Masters crown in Cincinatti in August and, beating Alexander Zverev on route, made the Stockholm final. It followed an impressive start to the year in Brisbane where Dimitrov overcame three top-tenners in Dominic Thiem, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori before making the Australian Open semi-finals – losing in five sets to Nadal- and lifting the Sofia title against Goffin on a home court.
Dimitrov was almost faultless, with impeccable movement and instinctive shot play, and the hapless Goffin could not provide any answers. The Bulgarian dropped a mere 12 points in sealing the opening set in 27 minutes.
The sixth seed broke early in the second and his opponent was wobbling against the ropes before finally winning his first game after losing nine straight. Goffin had a break point for 3-2 but Dimitrov held.
Goffin managed to hold one more time, but the writing had long since been written on the wall. A drilled forehand down the line on Dimitrov’s third match point put the Belgian out of his misery.
The seventh seed admitted he might have felt flat after the Nadal victory.
He said: “It could be. When you play against Rafa, you have to play two hours and, yeah, 40, 45 minutes. You waste a lot of energy on the court. You finish really late after treatment. It’s not easy to have a good recovery after a match like that.
“It’s not a reason. I was feeling great. Physically I’m feeling 100 per cent. I don’t think it’s because it was a long match against Rafa. It’s just that, Grigor played well and it was not easy for me. I have to focus on my next match.”
Goffin, 26, who plays Pablo Carreno Busta on Friday, had the consolation of learning by the end of Wednesday’s play that he had done enough to make the semi-finals.
He will face Dominic Thiem in a bid for the final after the Austrian fourth seed beat Carreno Busta, a replacement for the injured Rafa Nadal, 6-3 3-6 6-4.
Thiem said of his Busta encounter: “It was a really, really tight match. I think he took the place of Rafa very well, a very tough three-setter. I’m pleased to be through but it got very, very tight at the end.”
Britain’s Jamie Murray teamed up with Bruno Soares of Brazil to defeat Ivan Dodig and Marcel Granollers 6-1 6-1 to keep their flame alive in the doubles,
The pair, who lost their opening round-robin against Bob and Mike Bryan, would have exited had they lost.
But now they meet world No.1s Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo to try and secure a semi-final spot.
Kubot and Melo had assured themselves of a last-four place by overcoming the Bryans 6-4 6-3.
Murray and Soares took a mere 53 minutes to seal victory.
But there was a back injury concern for Murray.
He said after the match: “It was like a spasm or joint or something. It’s sore now. I’ll go and see the physio afterwards so hopefully they sort it out.”
A victory on Friday against the year-end number one team of Poland’s Kubot and Brazilian Melo will see Murray and Soares through to the last four.