But despite losing the second set after recovering from a 1-5 deficit to force a tie-break, the Belgian second seed bolstered his chances of qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals by defeating fifth-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3. He earned his first title of the season in his third attempt, ending a six-final losing streak that began after winning his first two tour-level trophies (2014 Kitzbuhel d. Thiem, 2014 Metz d. Sousa).
The victory helped Goffin strengthen his position in the Emirates ATP Race To London. He will now sit in 12th place, but with Stan Wawrinka (fifth) and Novak Djokovic (ninth) both out for the rest of the year due to injuries, the Belgian is right on the bubble, within five points of US Open finalist Kevin Anderson and 105 of American Sam Querrey.
“This one is really special because you know it’s always tough to come back from injuries,” said Goffin, who retired in the third round of Roland Garros and missed Wimbledon due to a right ankle injury. “To come back from injury to qualify my country for the Davis Cup final and then to win my third trophy, it means a lot. I cannot be happier today.”
It appeared that Goffin would cruise after winning the opening set in 32 minutes while losing just seven points on his serve, four of which came in one game. But after failing to convert on five break points in the opening game of the second set, the match turned in the Ukrainian’s favor.
Dolgopolov broke Goffin in two of the Belgian’s next three service games to earn what looked like an insurmountable 5-1 lead. But the 26 year old won four games in a row to overcome the double-break deficit and force a tie-break. After the back-and-forth exchange, Dolgopolov earned a mini-break at 5-5 and took advantage of his set point to force a decider.
“It was not easy because I had some opportunities in the first two service games of Alex,” Goffin said. “It was not easy and then he started to play so well…I played really well in the tie-break but he served well and he played a really nice point at 5-5.”
The final set was tense throughout, with no breaks of serve until the eighth game, with Goffin earning a 5-3 lead. Dolgopolov got to 30-30 as the Belgian served for the match, but Goffin pulled through to claim the title after losing all five of his previous sets against the Ukrainian.
“In the third I served really well. I stayed really focused even if I was a little bit tired,” Goffin admitted. “I served really well and I played two really good games at the end of the match.”
Goffin earned 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points and $118,910 in prize money, while Dolgopolov claimed 150 points and $36,125.
It was the Ukrainian’s third final of the season after capturing the final in Buenos Aires (d. Nishikori) and reaching the final in Bastad (l. Ferrer). He continues to display good form after also advancing to the Round of 16 at the US Open.
“For sure I wanted to have an easier second set but I had some issues and overall he played better, I think,” Dolgopolov said. “I had a good week.”