London: David Goffin produced a dazzling comeback to beat hot favourite and six-time champion Roger Federer 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Saturday and reach the final of the ATP Finals.
The Swiss world number two hit the ball sweetly from the start and the Belgian had no answer to his variety and weight of shot, lacking the weapons to put Federer under sustained pressure.
Federer, who had only lost four matches all year, rocked Goffin back on his heels at the beginning of the match, breaking him after multiple opportunities in the first game to establish an early grip.
The Belgian regrouped but Federer threaded a trademark backhand down the line to bring up three more break points in game five and secured the double break.
Unveiling his full array of shots in front of a purring crowd at London’s O2 Arena, including a remarkable low backhand volley at the net, he was briefly held up by Goffin but sealed the set 6-2 with an ace.
But in a surprising twist, seventh-seed Goffin quickly found himself 3-0 up in the second set after breaking Federer at his first opportunity and suddenly looked rejuvenated.
The 26-year-old Belgian, who had never beaten his much-vaunted opponent, looked far more aggressive and was not willing to allow Federer to dictate play as the Swiss player lost his precision.
The single break proved enough for Goffin to level the match and take it into a decider.
Federer appeared more focused at the start of the third set but Goffin broke in the third game to take a 2-1 lead and heap the pressure on the Swiss.
In a tense fourth game Federer earned a break point but Goffin fended off his charge to hold and, looking increasingly assured, held again for 4-2.
Goffin rose to serve for the match at 5-4 and made no mistake, holding his nerve to secure a famous victory.
Former world No. 1 Andy Murray, meanwhile, has mutually agreed to end his relationship with coach Ivan Lendl for a second time, the Briton said on Friday.
Murray was coached by Lendl from 2011-14 before he rejoined his team in June last year, helping Murray capture his second Wimbledon title and his second Olympic gold in Rio.
Murray, 30, ended 2016 as world number one having triumphed in the ATP Finals but struggled with injury for much of this year, missing the US. Open and falling to 16th in the rankings.
“I’m thankful to Ivan for all his help and guidance over the years, we’ve had great success and learnt a lot as a team. My focus now is on getting ready for Australia with the team I have in place and getting back to competing,” Murray said on his website.
Czech-born Lendl won 94 singles titles during his 16-year professional playing career, including eight grand slam triumphs. He never won Wimbledon having reached the final twice, but coached Murray for his two successes at the All England Club.
“I wish Andy well going forward. We had a great run and a lot of fun,” the 57-year-old said.