TENNIS star David Goffin was forced to retire after being struck in the left eye by a ball off his own racquet, sending second seed Grigor Dimitrov into the final 6-3, 0-1 at the Rotterdam World Tennis.
The unlucky Belgian fourth seed was forced to leave the court for treatment on Saturday and just over five minutes later, the umpire told Dimitrov that he had won through retirement.
Goffin caught a ball in the eye as it bounced off his frame in the opening game of the second set after Dimitrov had won the first.
The 26-year-old Dimitrov raced over to Goffin’s side immediately after his forehand met his opponent’s eye.
The pair are frequent rivals, and were meeting in the wake of the November ATP Finals victory claimed by Dimitrov in that title match.
The Bulgarian heads to the Sunday final to face either Roger Federer or Italian qualifier Andreas Seppi, Federer will be playing his first match after claiming a return to the top ATP ranking on Friday with a defeat of Dutchman Robin Haase.
WORLD NO. 1 FEDERER POWERS ON
Roger Federer celebrated becoming the oldest man to reach the world number one ranking by making the Rotterdam Open final on Saturday with a 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) victory over Italy’s Andreas Seppi despite losing sleep watching early-morning coverage of the Winter Olympics.
The 36-year-old Federer racked up his 14th win from 15 matches with 33-year-old Seppi, the world number 81 who had enjoyed a memorable week in the Dutch port city by reaching the semi-finals as a ‘lucky loser’.
Top-seeded Federer will face Grigor Dimitrov in Sunday’s final.
Federer said that despite not getting much sleep due to the excitement of his latest achievement — and draining more energy by watching the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in the pre-dawn hours — he expects to be fighting fit for his Sunday showdown which could result in a 97th career trophy.
“I felt OK today, maybe a bit heavy on court but I was aggressive,” the 20-time Grand Slam title winner said.
“I started finding energy midway through the first set, but the start was tough.” The two-time Rotterdam champion, who guaranteed a return to the world top spot by seeing off Robin Haase in the quarter-finals on Friday, added that he will be ready to go for his first afternoon match of the week after playing the night showcase slots.
“I’m good, it’s not been a tough week physically, maybe a bit harder emotionally,” he added.
“I hope to play one more good match and that’s it for the week.” Federer also dropped a big hint that he still might play the Dubai tournament, which begins a week from Monday.
The seven-time winner of the Gulf tournament said that he will take a decision later in the week one way or the other.
“It’s still open,” he said.
Despite enjoying a 6-0 career stranglehold over Dimitrov, with their last meeting in the 2017 Wimbledon fourth round, the top seed will not take anything for granted on Sunday.
“I know him very well, he had an incredible year last season, winning London (the World Tour Finals) and Cincinnati. He’s beaten some good players and started this year solid.
“This has to be a week where he wants to win this tournament. I’ll try my best and hope it’s enough,” said Federer.
— with AP