Miami, Ricky Dimon @Dimonator
Prior to the start of the BNP Paribas Open, David Goffin had never been past the quarterfinals of a Masters 1000 event. There was no reason to think anything different would transpire when Goffin faced match points against Frances Tiafoe in the Indian Wells second round earlier this month. But he saved both match points, ended up winning in a third-set tiebreaker, and the rest is history.
The red-hot Belgian reached the semifinals in the desert, upsetting Stan Wawrinka in the process before succumbing to Milos Raonic. With momentum in hand, Goffin has accomplished the same feat at the Miami Open. Benefiting from Roger Federer’s withdrawal in what became a wide-open section of the bracket, Goffin capitalized on the opportunity to cruise into the last eight with straight-set defeats of Marcel Granollers, Viktor Troicki, and Horacio Zeballos.
With the competition level ratcheted up in the form of Gilles Simon on Wednesday, Goffin came up with all the answers and recovered from a set deficit to prevail 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 in one hour and 57 minutes. The world No. 15 converted five of six break chances in the final two sets after missing all six of his opportunities in the opener.
“The first set it was tough because it was a good set with a good level,” Goffin reflected. “Gilles was really solid on his baseline, but I didn’t serve really well in the first set. I didn’t have any free points with my serve, so it was tough.
“I knew that the level was there and I had to keep going like this, just to stay more focused on some shots just to finish the points…. Then game after game I was feeling much better. The serve was there in the third set. Yeah, I think with the serve it was the key to win the third.”
Goffin will obviously have to do everything well in his semifinal showdown against Novak Djokovic on Friday. Djokovic, who has not lost this season by anything other than retirement (to Feliciano Lopez in Dubai), cruised past Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-3 on Wednesday night.
The top-seeded Serb got broken only once, just as he did against Dominic Thiem on Tuesday. But this time around it was far more straightforward; Djokovic had to fight off a slew of break points (14 of 15 was the final tally) in the fourth round before facing only three with Berdych on the other side of the net.
“The opening three or four games went over 20 minutes,” Djokovic commented. “We both started with great intensity and concentration. I think we made each other play a lot…. I just managed to keep my composure and play the right shots at the right time.”
On the other side of the draw, Milos Raonic will battle Nick Kyrgios on Thursday while Kei Nishikori squares off against Gael Monfils.