Grigor Dimitrov was already assured the top spot in his 2017 ATP Finals group, but a victory against Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta late on November 17 made him the first player to win all his round robin matches in a debut appearance at the ATP year-end tournament since Andy Murray in 2008.
Dimitrov set a blistering pace from the start and won 6-1, 6-1 in just one hour against Carreno Busta, who replaced Rafael Nadal as an alternate after the world number one withdrew with an injury.
The Bulgarian has dropped only four games in has two matches, having beat David Goffin earlier in the week 6-0, 6-2. Only Austria’s Dominic Thiem in the first round robin match pushed Dimitrov to a third set before the Bulgarian prevailed 6-3, 5-7, 7-5.
He is likely to face a tougher challenge in the semi-finals, where he will meet American Jack Sock, who booked his place by defeating German Alexander Zverev a day earlier. Sock qualified for the year-end tournament at the last moment and needed to win the Paris Masters to do so. His only defeat in the ATP Finals came against Roger Federer.
“Jack has been playing unbelievable, especially the past month,” Dimitrov said after his match. “He’s a very dangerous opponent. He has everything to beat anybody and that’s why he made it out here.”
Dimitrov is 1-3 against Sock, including a three-set loss earlier this year in Indian Wells, but his one win came in their only meeting on an indoor hard court, same as in London, in 2014. Although Sock has had an extra day of rest compared to Dimitrov, he also needed three sets to notch his two wins, while Dimitrov has breezed through his last two matches.
In the other semifinal, Roger Federer, who won all his round robin matches as well, will play against Goffin, who booked his place by beating Thiem 6-4, 6-1.
For the Bulgarian, there will be more than just a place in the final at stake – should he win, he would end the year as the world number three, behind only Nadal and Federer. As it stands, his round robin victories already guarantee he will rise to fourth, a new career high, but he has the chance to overtake Zverev with a victory against Sock.
(Dimitrov has won three titles this year, including his first Masters level event in Cincinnati, to go along with the tournaments in Brisbane and Sofia.)