The sixth seed got off to the flawless start, winning his opening round-robin match in the Pete Sampras Group as he was able to keep his nerves in check to beat the Austrian 6-3 5-7 7-5. This was their 4th meeting, the third of the season (Dominic saved 5 match points in Madrid), and Bulgarian claimed his second win over the Austrian, facing just 2 break point in the entire match and converting 3 out of 8 break chances he created on Dominic's serve to bring the match home. In a tight second set, sixth seed Dimitrov earned a potentially decisive break point in the 11th game but Thiem, whose service numbers improved significantly, held firm, lashing a forehand victor down the line and edging ahead 6-5.
Thiem grew in confidence as the match progressed into the second set and thanks to a higher percentage of first serves put the pressure on Dimitrov's shoulders, who was broken in the 12th game of the second set to force the decider.
However, the third set proved a step too far for the 16-time Grand Slam champion, who began to struggle with his movement and was in visible pain as Goffin finally claimed victory.
"You fail and then you get back up and go again", Dimitrov said.
Thiem made his Tour Finals debut Monday. "Also because it's your first match, it's against a really, really good opponent, so you're very tense".
But rather than Dimitrov, Thiem it was who wilted.
"I think the best is yet to come. I thought about my last match against John (Isner) in Paris", said Dimitrov, referring to another recent loss in which he wasted a match point. "I was like, 'Not again, definitely not again, '" he added with a smile.
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