Belgian David Goffin pulled off the biggest win of his career at the Nitto ATP Finals Tuesday with a victory over Nadal.

David Goffin has kicked off his campaign to win a maiden Year-End Championship title in victorious fashion. In his second appearance at the event, he has started extremely positively, pulling off the biggest win of his career.

In an engaging contest with the legendary 31-year-old lefty from Mallorca, the 26-year-old Belgian summoned his resources to stake out an early lead in Group Pete Sampras. Despite some erroneous overrules from the chair umpire, Goffin kept his wits about him, breaking in the third game of the match. He promptly consolidated his lead in the following game, to lead by three games to one. On the big stage, the popular Belgian showed few nerves, and rallied behind rousing crowd support.

The resilient Nadal, as ever, bounced right back with a break of his own to level the match at 3-3. He remains one of the toughest in the game to put away. However, in the 11th game, Goffin took his second break chance, striking a scintillating inside-out FH winner. The Belgian failed to seize on his advantage, however, handing the break right back, courtesy of two double faults. The first set tiebreak went the way of… At 3-2, Goffin missed a golden opportunity, flubbing a FH on a sitter that would have put him up a mini-break. A missed volley by the Spaniard at 4-3 did the trick, though. A netted forehand by Goffin two points later, though, leveled the breaker once more. With steely resolve (and despite four double faults), the bearded Belgian secured the mini-break and the first set, in 55 minutes.

The second set was initially drama-free, remaining on serve through the first five games. It must be noted that while Goffin was equal to the task, he did net a fair few balls, and sprayed some as well. Had he landed these, it would have made his job that much easier. Nadal did not appear hampered by any means. His usual bravado was decidedly muted, though. Leading by 4-3, on Nadal’s serve, Goffin hit a curling FH down-the-line winner that got him off on the right foot in the game. After a lengthy subsequent rally, Nadal cracked and committed an error to bring it to 0-30. A clinical return netted Goffin the break. A golden opportunity was presented on a silver platter, as he would serve for the biggest win of his career. He failed that test, however, and Nadal broke straight back. He then held his own serve, controversially, to back up that break, and things were level at five, apiece.

Goffin held his own serve, and it was up to Nadal to hold up his end of the bargain and send it to a second set tiebreaker. He quickly fell into a 0-40 hole, but saved all three match points. Nadal went on to take the game, and was back from the brink, once again.

In the second set tiebreak, Goffin secured the immediate mini-break. Nadal later edged ahead with a trademark bolo forehand down the line. He went on to secure that breaker. He saved four match points in the second set, and turned the match on its head. You’ve got to doff your cap to the vintage stylings of Rafael Nadal.

In the deciding set, Nadal’s backhand came alive. Another comeback for the ages in the books for the Spaniard. At 1-1, the slightly built challenger broke, as Nadal sent an errant drop shot wide. With a speedy consolidation, he was off to the races. Yet another twist in the sixth game, though, as Nadal got back one of the breaks. Although Goffin served up his share of double faults, 13 aces served him nicely. Nadal served to stay in the match at 3-5, and once again, Goffin was within a game of the match. Another hold from the Spaniard put the outcome on Goffin’s racquet. This time he got the job done, in 2:37:45. Despite some difficulty closing out his opponent, it was a very fine all-around performance from the Belgian.

Heading into the match, there had been some question about the status of Nadal’s knee. He bore no strapping, and showed no ill effects, whatsoever, which bodes well for his chances here in London. For his part, Goffin looked well, despite the highly visible strapping on his left knee. Good news for the well-liked Belgian after his gruesome ankle mishap at Roland Garros.

Nadal is now 2-1 against the world number eight, with all three matches having been contested this season.

This nightcap concludes the action at the ATP Finals for today. Group play is set to continue at the Nitto ATP Finals on Wednesday afternoon when Roger Federer will be in action once more.