Group Pete Sampras got off to a crazy start on Monday. It all began with Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov barely edging past fourth seed Dominic Thiem 7-5 in the third while the lowest seed in the group, David Goffin, shocked the world with his first win against a World #1 over Rafael Nadal.
Following these results and the Spaniard pulling out right after his loss, the group finds itself in a situation where any of the three remaining players–as well as alternate Pablo Carreno Busta–can make the semi-finals. In the other group, the highest seed remaining, Roger Federer, not only qualified for the semis but also won the group. But who will join him from Group Pete Sampras?
Let’s start with Pablo Carreno Busta, who will make this debut at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals against Dominic Thiem. At best the Spaniard can finish the group second, but that will require beating the Austrian as well Grigor Dimitrov on Friday. Although the Austrian has only won two ATP matches since the US Open in September, he’s still a far superior hard courter than Carreno Busta and boasts a 4-0 head to head. If the Spaniard can make his debut a winning one, then things get a little better as he’s won his last two matches against the 26-year-old Bulgarian, and both in straight sets. Realistically, it’s unlikely Carreno Busta wins both his matches; even if he does there’s still a chance he doesn’t qualify so the two qualification places are more or less down to the other three.
The winner of Grigor Dimitrov vs David Goffin is incredibly hard to call, given the #6 seed leads David Goffin 3-1 head-to-head, but their last match on indoor hard went to the Belgian. If Dimitrov does win the top spot will automatically be secure with it. While if Goffin wins he’ll require Carreno Busta to do the same later to secure the group win. If Goffin wins and Carreno Busta loses to Thiem then things get very interesting and complicated with quite possibly three players able to win the group on Friday.
With all of this in mind, it’s a great chance for both the Bulgarian and Belgian to make the semi-finals. Even in a strange way with Nadal pulling out, Dominic Thiem also has a fairly decent chance too regardless of his poor form as of late and an opening loss.
Saying all this, I do think it will be both Dimitrov and Goffin who make the semi-finals. I have doubts Goffin will be able to recreate the magic that spurred him to a win over the 16-time Grand Slam champion on Monday and is likely to have a bit of a letdown, which is why I’m going to have to say Dimitrov qualifies for the semi-finals tomorrow and tops the group. The Austrian will beat Carreno Busta and set up a straight one vs one match on Friday for the final semi-spot, in which Goffin will extend their head to head to 7-3, finish the group second, and take on Roger Federer in the semi-finals.
Additionally, I would like to say a huge thank you to @O2Sports for the chance to watch some stunning world class tennis up close this week at the Nitto ATP Tour Finals. Hopefully this quality of tennis continues throughout the rest of the tournament.
LastWordOnTennis would like to thank O2 Sports, the sponsor of the O2 arena, for giving us the tremendous opportunity to attend several sessions of the ATP Finals.