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Jack Sock ends US drought with ATP Finals win over Cilic

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LONDON (AP) The United States has been waiting 10 years for a win at the ATP Finals, few thought Jack Sock would be the man to deliver it.

The No. 8-seeded player defeated Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (4) on Tuesday.

Sock lost his debut match at the O2 Arena to Roger Federer, but he is now 1-1 in his round-robin group.

While others might have been surprised at Sock becoming the first American to win at the elite season-ending event since Andy Roddick in 2007, the man himself wasn’t.

“I wouldn’t be out here playing, competing if I didn’t think I could give myself a chance to win tournaments, to be here,” Sock said.

“I’m not the type of guy that will just enter a draw and be happy to make the third round or the quarters or whatever. I’m here to win matches. I think if I do the right things and I play the right tennis, I can give myself a chance to play on the weekend of any tournament.”

Cilic, who has won only one of his eight matches overall at the season-ending tournament, is 0-2 and will be eliminated if Federer beats Alexander Zverev in the late match.

“Definitely not a great record, but I felt that I played even well last year,” Cilic said. “In those three matches that I played, I had good chances at least to win. These two also. So just, you know, couple points away from closing those matches. A little bit unfortunate with that.”

Despite having been forced out of bed in the early hours of Tuesday morning by a fire alarm at his hotel, Sock made a fast start – breaking in the opening game, only to hand it straight back to his opponent.

The next break point didn’t come until the 11th game. A moment of huge fortune saved Cilic as his forehand got a dead net cord, which Sock couldn’t track down.

The Croat made good use of his luck, breaking in the following game to claim the opening set. A visibly frustrated Sock received a code violation as he blasted a ball into the upper tier, but it seemed to work for him. The American broke Cilic in the opening game once more and did so again in fifth to level the match.

Cilic broke for a 2-0 lead in the deciding set, but Sock displayed the fighting spirit that carried him to an unlikely Masters victory in Paris last month, breaking back in the fifth game and force a tiebreak.

With Cilic a 4-3 and a minibreak up, Sock produced the shot of the match as he sprinted forward to retrieve another near-dead net cord and didn’t look back from there, winning the next three points to secure the match.

“As for the tiebreak, just hope he doesn’t hit the net again,” Sock said. “He had a few of those today, but that’s tennis.”

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.