LONDON -- It was all geared up to be a great match as Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin stepped out onto centre court at the ATP Finals on Wednesday; both players having won their first Round Robin matches over three sets and currently only one World Ranking place apart -- Dimitrov No.6 and Goffin No.7.
But no-one predicted the one-sided display that ensued; Dimitrov cruised to a 6-0, 6-2 victory in just 1 hour 13 minutes and in doing so, secures himself a place in Saturday's semifinal.
"I'm humbled to win this match. We've played each other quite a few times, we know each other's games so well, so it was a special day for sure," Dimitrov said in his post-match on-court interview.
"Onto the next one. I thought I could have played more which is great... I'm not here just to participate, I'm here to come out and play a game like that."
But something was obviously awry with Goffin; the fiery focus that he displayed in his defeat of Nadal on Monday was replaced by a string of double faults, many shots pushed into the net and aggression was instead swapped for hesitation.
After a flat 23 minutes it was already 5-0 to Dimitrov. Four minutes later and the Bulgarian had effortlessly sealed the first set 6-0.
It would be hard not to draw conclusions from the after effects of Monday's gruelling two and a half hour three setter, a win Goffin had earlier described as "the biggest win of [his] career".
Asked if this left him feeling a little flat, the Belgian responded: "Yeah, it could be. When you play against Rafa, you have to play two hours and, yeah, 40, 45 minutes. You waste a lot of energy on the court. You finish really late after treatment. It's not easy to have a good recovery after a match like that.
"Yeah, it's not a reason. I don't think it's because it was a long match against Rafa. It's just that, yeah, Grigor played well and it was not easy for me today."
He didn't call on the trainer, but the Belgian -- with a strapped left knee --looked to be suffering from the pain that has plagued his season ever since an awkward altercation with the tarpaulin at the French Open earlier this year.
Though he was quick to dismiss such an assumption in his postmatch press conference: "It was not the problem today. It was just a tough, tough match against Grigor who played really well. I'm feeling almost 100% physically."
Goffin eventually got onto the scoreboard in the tenth game, holding his first service game and taking the second set to 3-1. The crowd were fully behind the Belgian player, eager to see a closer matchup akin to the previous singles matches of the tournament. A code of conduct violation for Dimitrov for receiving on-court coaching in the eleventh and the Bulgarian began, for the first time, to look a little rattled.
When asked if this point in the game gave him cause for concern, Dimitrov told ESPN: "He made I think a few pretty good returns. I think actually I let him play pretty good on a few points. He got into the court I felt a little bit. Then I let him play his game.
"But, yeah, I saw that right away. I think I just put the brakes on it pretty fast. I think after that game, I actually remember that game very clearly, I was a little bit also more certain how I wanted to play and how I was performing throughout the whole time."
Finally it looked as though Goffin was facing up to the fight, taking Dimitrov to four deuces over nine minutes, but another wide forehand and it wasn't to be.
The Belgian did seem to have found his groove though, directing the match with slice cross court backhands and delivering big serves when they were needed most and held serve to secure his second game of the match at 4-2.
But Dimitrov responded by re-claiming a fast service game of his own and despite saving two match points, Goffin relinquished the second set 6-2.
Looking ahead to Friday's semifinal against Goffin, Thiem said: "We had some big, important matches in the past. Also in the deep rounds of slams. This one's going to be another one. We know each other very well. He played a very good match here, one very bad match. I don't know what to expect. I'm hoping that it's going to be a tough match, and I'm trying everything to go through to the semis."