The Swiss on Saturday was shocked by Belgian tennis player Goffin when he came back into the match to turn it in his favour and win 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 at the O2 Arena in London.
In the end, though, Grigor Dimitrov has shown that he might yet make good on that obvious promise, claiming the biggest prize of his career at the age of 26. I'm in the right place, and I deserve to be here in this tournament.
If both semi-finals go according to form it will mean a dream showdown between Federer and Dimitrov - the man affectionately known as "Baby Federer". Maybe would be easier if I would have won it and go out with more confidence out of this tournament than after this defeat against del Potro.
In his opening match, Dimitrov needed three sets to advance past fourth seed Dominic Thiem of Austria, but against Busta and fellow semifinalist David Goffin of Belgium, Dimitrov lost only four games in four sets.
Yet rewind two years and he was struggling to play three good points in a row, let alone challenge for big titles.
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Play continued with serve, but the early break allowed Goffin to serve for and claim the second set 6-3. He leveled in the eighth game before breaking once more in the 12th to snatch the set, despite Goffin hitting eight more winners.
The Bulgarian took the second of them with an inch-perfect forehand down the line to serve for a place in the final, which he secured with his fourth match point.
"I was not focused on the crowd, I was focused on what I have to do", Goffin said.
"There is the generation of Federer, he's nearly 10 years older than me, so we are not from the same generation".
It happened again at the beginning of the game when he served to stay in the match at 2-5 and the Belgian slipped to 0-40.
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"I was a little bit exhausted in the third", Goffin said.
He ends the year with his first major title and as the world No. 3, but the final favourite will feel comfortable to have scaled the heights of the men's game after finding his feet in tandem with Dani Vallverdu over the last 15 months. "He was really solid".
"I don't want to get too hyped up because I've done well, now I'm No. 3 in the world", Dimitrov said. He broke into the top 10 for the first time in February and reached a career high No. 8-ranking earlier in November.
"Of course, one of my main goals is to win a tournament, a grand slam tournament", Dimitrov said. He'd had to change things up after their round-robin encounter, but his courageous all-or-nothing approach wasn't enough against the DImitrov defence, and a late mini-revival failed to save the match.
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