Dimitrov Rules On Home Soil
It was an extra special week for Dimitrov, who was playing a first ATP World Tour event on home soil. His recent resurgence up the Emirates ATP Rankings, recovering from No. 40 in July 2016 to being on the cusp of the Top 10, has captivated the nation as fans flocked to support their countryman.
“This is my most prestigious title for sure, winning it at home is a tremendous success for me,” said the 25 year old, having secured the trophy with his mother watching on from court side. “I will treasure this title for the rest of my life, it’s something amazing for me."
All week his matches have been eagerly watched by ardent local support and that was no different in the final with a 12,000-strong sold out capacity cheering him on. “The crowd has been absolutely magnificent throughout,” added Dimitrov. “I’m more than thankful for their support."
The Bulgarian opened his season by capturing a fifth ATP World Tour title in Brisbane, defeating three Top 10 opponents in a row, before continuing his stellar form in Sofia. The third seed had dropped just one service game all week ahead of the final and started against the World No. 11 in emphatic style.
A delicate drop volley ignited a break to surge 3-0 ahead before the Belgian restored parity. Dimitrov, the victor on both previous occasions against Goffin, was forced to save four break points in an eight-minute game at 4-4. The set seemed destined for a tie-break until Dimitrov forced Goffin into a wayward backhand to edge halfway towards the trophy. World No.13 Dimitrov once again earned a 3-0 lead and then made it six successive games with a blistering forehand cross court winner on the stretch.
Goffin was on the brink at 0-5 but was undeterred with some brave forays towards the net. He saved three match points, as Dimitrov’s double fault count reached nine, and managed to reduce his deficit to 4-5. However, the Bulgarian broke to be crowned champion at his home tournament.
“David is an extremely good player, I just had to focus and just be there in each point and each game. He’s one of the toughest competitors out there,” said the World No. 13. “I was 5-1 up and 40-0 up (2nd set) and I still couldn’t close it out. The way he played at the end was incredible. I’m going to have a lot of battles with this guy in the future.”
Despite missing out on a third ATP World Tour title, Goffin was satisified with another confidence-boosting tournament. “A really positive week, the beginning of the week was not easy, I couldn’t find my rhythm, but now I’ve played some good tennis,” said the Belgian. “It was a great week and really positive for the rest of the season.”