No Murray, Djokovic, Wawrinka and others - Did the long list of absentees hurt the ATP Finals?

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Regulars and former participants like last year's champion Andy Murray, five-time winner Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori were all absent from the ATP Finals this year as they all ended their seasons early due to injury.

While the 2017 season finale produced some great matches, and gave us a first-time champion in Grigor Dimitrov, did the long list of absentees hurt the tournament?

Or was it exciting to see new faces break through?

In the video above, Spanish tennis journalist Marta Mateo and I discuss the impact these absences have had on the 2017 ATP Finals. We also look ahead to next season and try and figure out who will be the top candidates for next year's finale.


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ATP Finals: Goffin walks away proud and 'stronger mentally' after historic week in London

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Proud: David Goffin.

David Goffin may be walking away from the ATP Finals with the runner-up trophy but the Belgian is proud of his efforts this week in London and believes he has proven that he belongs among the top players in the world.

Goffin lost a tight final to Grigor Dimitrov on Sunday night, to bring an end to a week that saw the Belgian No. 7 seed defeat both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, becoming just the sixth player to ever do so at the same tournament.

The 26-year-old Goffin was crushed by Dimitrov 6-0, 6-2 earlier in the week in the round robin stage. But their rematch on Sunday was a high-quality tug of war that ultimately went the Bulgarian’s way.

“I think after this week I’m a better player mentally. Yeah, obviously mentally, but also, yeah, physically. It was tough,” said Goffin, who still has to play the Davis Cup next weekend against France in Lille.

“I proved to myself that I can do it. I was at the right place because, you know, sometimes you are for the first time in the top-eight, you don’t know how it’s going to go, if you’re going to play a good level.

“I proved to myself that, yeah, I’m in the right place, and I deserve to be here in this tournament. Then match after match, I took more confidence until the final. So I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, even if I’m disappointed about the final.

“I gave everything. I have no regrets after the final. Anyway, it was a great week. So, yeah, I think I’m a better player.”

Goffin, who is the first Belgian to qualify for the ATP Finals in singles, will end the year at a career-high No. 7. He compiled a remarkable record in decisive set matches in 2017, winning a tour-leading 22 and losing just six.

Both Goffin and Dimitrov are 26 and they are part of the generation that had been trying to break out from the shadow of the ‘Big Four’ of Federer, Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

With young guns like 20-year-old Alexander Zverev, and 22-year-old Nick Kyrgios making waves, Goffin’s generation have to contend with both the veterans and the talented up-and-comers.

“It’s our generation. But we are here and we are fighting to beat the young guns and also the old ones,” says Goffin.

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Grigor Dimitrov overcomes David Goffin to claim ATP Finals title

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New world No. 3: Grigor Dimitrov.

Grigor Dimitrov capped a stellar season with a title triumph at the ATP Finals where he defeated David Goffin 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in a high-quality thriller on Sunday night at the O2 Arena.

The Bulgarian claimed the biggest title of his career, collecting 1500 ranking points along with $2,549,000 in prize money thanks to his unbeaten run this week in London.

The win comes just three months after Dimitrov had captured his maiden Masters 1000 crown in Cincinnati.

He will now rise to a career-high No. 3 in the world when the new rankings come out on Monday.

The 26-year-old came back from a break down in the opening set and battled for two hours and 30 minutes before he overcame a stubborn Goffin, who this week, became just the sixth player to ever defeat Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer at the same tournament.

“David is such a tremendous guy. Forget about his tennis, he can hit the ball well yeah… I’m kidding man,” said an emotional Dimitrov during the trophy ceremony.

“Just congrats for him and his team, for this amazing result. I think he’s one of the most improved players throughout the past weeks, even months. Unbelievable effort.

“I’m just very proud to play against him out here in a final and of course I wish him the best of luck for next weeks and for Davis Cup. I’m sure we’re going to practice again in the offseason.”

An emotional Dimitrov the moment he realised he won the match.

An emotional Dimitrov the moment he realised he won the match.

History was being made in many ways at the O2 on Sunday night.

For the first time since the inception of the ATP Finals in 1970, two first-time qualifiers were facing off in the title match.

Both players are the first from their respective countries to qualify for the ATP Finals and it’s the first time in a decade that a first-time qualifier has made it through to the championship decider.

Alex Corretja was the last first-time qualifier to win the trophy when he defeated Carlos Moya in the final in 1998.

Competing in front of an A-list crowd that included former England footballer David Beckham and Rami Malek, star of the TV show Mr. Robot, both players had a nervy start as the first three games went against serve. It was Goffin who finally consolidated his break to go up 3-1.

But the Belgian double-faulted in game eight then sent a ball long to hand the break back as Dimitrov leveled for 4-4.

The point of the match came in the following game as Dimitrov dealt with some crazy side spin from Goffin and countered it with a brilliant down-the-line get before finishing off the point at the net.

The Bulgarian played a perfect mix of defence and offence to get his hands on two set points on the Goffin serve at 6-5.

Goffin saved the first with a forehand winner and he struck another magical one moments later as he wrong-footed Dimitrov.

The No. 7 seed faced a third set point after sending a volley wide but he found his serve when he needed it to save it. A fourth opportunity for Dimitrov to seal the set also slipped away. But he finally wrapped the 59-minute opening set on his fifth chance as Goffin’s ball landed in the net.

The Bulgarian played a perfect mix of defence and offence to get his hands on two set points on the Goffin serve at 6-5.

Goffin saved the first with a forehand winner and he struck another magical one moments later as he wrong-footed Dimitrov.

The No. 7 seed faced a third set point after sending a volley wide but he found his serve when he needed it to save it. A fourth opportunity for Dimitrov to seal the set also slipped away.

But he finally wrapped the 59-minute opening set on his fifth chance as Goffin’s ball landed in the net.

Goffin saved a break point in the sixth game of the second set then broke for a 4-3 lead in the next game as he targeted Dimitrov’s backhand.

That break was all Goffin needed to take the second set and force a decider.

Dimitrov had an opening in the sixth game and he edged ahead 4-2 on a wide backhand down-the-line attempt from Goffin.

The Belgian saved three consecutive championship points while serving at 2-5 with some nerveless tennis that saw him take five points in a row to hold.

But that only postponed the inevitable as Dimitrov secured the win on his fifth match point before throwing himself to the ground in disbelief.

“It’s been a tremendous two weeks for me, honestly. It’s such an honour to play here. These two weeks have been one of the best weeks I’ve ever had, without a doubt,” said Dimitrov, who had crushed Goffin 6-0, 6-2 in the group stage but faced a much stiffer opposition on Sunday.

“I just want to thank my team. They’ve been unbelievable this year. Of course my family, my mum and dad, they’re here. Also one person I don’t know if she’s in the hall or not, this week, played a pretty important part was my girlfriend (pop star) Nicole (Scherzinger). She’s somewhere hiding. She deserves also quite a bit of credit for these 2 weeks. It was just great to be out here and win this.”

Making history: Dimitrov and Goffin.

Making history: Dimitrov and Goffin.

Goffin admitted he felt tired after a roller coaster week of highs and lows and he still has to recover in time for next weekend’s Davis Cup final against France in Lille.

“It was a special week for me. A week with a lot of emotions, a lot of fatigue of course and now I’m feeling tired. But it was an amazing week, we did an amazing job,” said Goffin, who ends the year at No. 7 in the world rankings.

“It was tough, after the match against Grigor in the group, it was not easy to come back on the court but we worked a lot with the team. So I’d like to thank all my team, and my friends also who came out tonight. Without their work I won’t be there so thank you everybody.

“I will need some days off to rest and I will be ready the next weekend. Of course it’s such an honour to represent my country. To be in the Davis Cup final for another time is something special so I’ll try to give my best as I did this week.”

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