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Williams needs more than three hours to beat Ostapenko at Finals

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SINGAPORE — Venus Williams needed three match points and more than three hours to defeat Jelena Ostapenko 7-5, 6-7 (3), 7-5 at the WTA Finals on Tuesday.

The match, lasting 3 hours, 13 minutes, featured 20 service breaks with neither player finding any confidence on their service games.

Williams dropped her serve nine times, while the French Open champion Ostapenko conceded serve 11 times.

“I don’t know if there was any luck for me tonight, I just had to work for every point,” the 37-year-old Williams said. “It’s not easy to lose the first match, and both of us were in the same situation.”

The fifth-seeded Williams is now 1-1 in round-robin play, while the seventh-seeded Ostapenko – who is making her WTA Finals debut – fell to 0-2.

Williams’s first match point came on Ostapenko’s serve in the 10th game of the second set, but she squandered the opportunity by netting a forehand.

The 20-year-old Ostapenko kept the pressure on to force a tiebreaker and levelled the match. Prior to this match, Williams had only lost two tiebreakers in 12 played this season.

But Williams, the runner-up at the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year, then started taking Ostapenko’s second serve from well within the baseline. She broke her Latvian opponent in the 11th game by forcing her into a backhand error.

Williams, the only player in the field to have won the WTA Finals – back in 2008 – sealed victory with a backhand crosscourt winner.

Dimitrov defeats Goffin to win ATP Finals title

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LONDON — Grigor Dimitrov claimed the biggest title of his career at the season-ending ATP Finals on Sunday, prevailing on his fifth match point to beat David Goffin of Belgium 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

“It’s such an honor to play here,” Dimitrov said. “This week has been one of the best I’ve ever had.”

The sixth-seeded Bulgarian won in 2 hours, 30 minutes, 15 seconds for the longest final since the tournament returned to a three-set format in 2008.

Dimitrov won all five of his matches at the O2 Arena to become the first player to win the elite tournament on debut since 1998, when Alex Corretja of Spain triumphed in Hanover.

Goffin saved three match points on his own serve, but Dimitrov kept his cool, taking the second opportunity on his own delivery to close it out.

By reaching the final, Dimitrov had already secured a career-high No. 3-ranking to end the year. Goffin also moves up to a career-best No. 7.

The final lasted more than 11 minutes longer than Roger Federer took to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2011. It was a nervous start as both players failed to hold serve in the opening three games before Goffin settled down to control the opener as Dimitrov struggled with his timing.

However, Dimitrov fought his way back into the set. He leveled in the eighth game before breaking once more in the 12th to snatch the set in which Goffin hit eight more winners.

Dimitrov’s confidence carried into the second set, where he brought up the first break point in the sixth game, only for Goffin to produce a stunning cross-court backhand winner to save it. The momentum back with him, Goffin broke the following game for a 4-3 lead and calmly closed out the set.

Having come from behind to beat Federer in Saturday’s semifinal, Goffin had every reason to be confident and could have gone ahead. But he wasted four break points in the opening game – they would turn out to be his only chances in the decider.

Dimitrov was more clinical, striking in the sixth game to take control. Goffin tested Dimitrov’s nerve by saving three match points on his own serve, before saving one on Dimitrov’s. However the Belgian’s resistance came to an end as he netted a backhand volley, leaving Dimitrov in tears.

(This story has been corrected to show it was the longest three-set final since the tournament returned to a three-set format in 2008, not longest three-set final ever.)

Goffin ousts Federer in ATP Finals semis

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LONDON — David Goffin ended Roger Federer’s bid for a seventh ATP Finals title by stunning the favorite 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals on Saturday.

The Belgian claimed the biggest win of his career and qualified for the final on Sunday, when he will face Grigor Dimitrov or Jack Sock. They play later Saturday.

Federer looked to be heading toward his 11th final at the elite season-ending tournament when he cruised through the first set, but Goffin took advantage of a drop in his play to level.

Despite having lost all six of his previous encounters with Federer, Goffin was able to execute better in the deciding set, breaking in the third game and producing a nerveless display of serving to seal victory.