Djokovic Survives Goffin Test To Reach Seventh Miami Final
Serb tested in the heat by in-form Belgian
“It was windy, it was humid, it was warm,” Djokovic said. “It was like everything was thrown out there. And to overcome those obstacles and conditions was something that I'm proud of. I managed to stay tough in the right moments.”
The 28-year-old Djokovic is through to his seventh Miami final and is bidding to tie Andre Agassi's record of six titles. It would be a first three-peat in Miami for the Belgrade native, who won the title in 2007 (d. Canas), 2011 (d. Nadal), 2012 (d. Murray), 2014 (d. Nadal) and 2015 (d. Murray).
Djokovic was made to cover every inch of the court as the relentless Goffin pushed him to the limit in testing conditions in Miami. The Serb was under pressure from the offset, saving three break points in his opening service games.
“He plays very clean,” Djokovic said of Goffin. “It’s a tennis that is beautiful to watch. Also, I think he improved his serve. I had difficulty reading it. It's not as powerful as maybe some other guys', but it's very precise and efficient. Also, he backs it up with a very efficient first shot after the serve.
“Physically, it was a great battle, with lots of exchanges from the baseline.”
Having saved two break points in the sixth game, Goffin broke Djokovic in the following game for a 4-3 lead. However, as he has been wont to do in the past 12 months, Djokovic immediately broke back. In 2015, Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers showed that Djokovic was the lead performer on the ATP World Tour as he won a commanding 38 per cent of his return games immediately after getting broken.
Djokovic ultimately clinched the opener in the tie-break, but Goffin was not deterred. With Djokovic feeling the heat, Goffin continued to press and was thwarted on a break point chance in the fourth game. But crucial unforced errors in the seventh game proved to Goffin's undoing. Djokovic took his chance to break and went on to close out victory in two hours and five minutes. Goffin was left ruing a conversion rate of seven from 17 points at the net, including pivotal misses in the tie-break.
The 25-year-old Goffin has been in a rich vein of form, backing up his run to his first Masters 1000 semi-final in Indian Wells, where he beat Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic before falling to Milos Raonic. He dropped to a 2-26 record against Top 10 opponents.
“Against Djokovic, you have to make every point,” Goffin said. “You have to go for the shot on every point. He doesn't give you anything, so you have to win it. It's tough, because if you are not there for a few seconds, you lose the game.
“I’ve worked a lot in practice, so maybe that's why it’s paying off during the match. But for the next tournament and for the rest of this season, of course my confidence will be really high.”
The Belgian is projected to reach a career-high World No. 13 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on Monday, having started March at No. 18.