QF Preview: Djokovic Looks To Stay On Track Against Goffin
The top half of the Wimbledon men's draw has been all Novak Djokovic and a flurry of upsets. While his fellow Top 20 seeds have fallen in the prior four rounds, including fifth seed Alexander Zverev and sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, the four-time champion and top seed has sped past any potential speed bumps, dropping only one set en route to his 11th Wimbledon quarter-final (8-2).
Djokovic will look to avoid the upset bug for at least one more round on Wednesday when he meets 21st seed David Goffin. The Serbian has looked locked in since losing his only set, in the third round against 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Hubert Hurkacz.
Djokovic dropped only five games in the final two sets against the Pole and seven total against France's Ugo Humbert in the fourth round. In other words, the 15-time Slam champion is nearing top form just in time for the Wimbledon home stretch.
“I think as the match progressed, I played better and better. Very, very pleased with performance,” Djokovic said. “It's exactly what I was looking for and what I needed.”
He leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Goffin 5-1, but they've never played on grass and haven't met since the 2017 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, a three-set victory for the Belgian.
The 28-year-old Goffin will carry plenty of confidence into his third Slam quarter-final and first since the 2017 Australian Open. The right-hander pushed Roger Federer in the NOVENTI OPEN final in Halle and, according to Djokovic, has a game made for Wimbledon.
“Grass is quite suitable to his style of the game. He's one of the quickest players on the Tour. I think his footwork is probably his biggest asset. He manages to get himself in the right positions. He is balanced on some shots that most of the other guys aren't really balanced,” Djokovic said.
Goffin, who has struggled with injuries the past few years, shouldn't be intimidated by their Centre Court assignment or with playing Djokovic. The Belgian has wins against all three members of the Big Three – Djokovic, Federer and Rafael Nadal – and should play with nothing to lose.
“They are so tough to beat in Grand Slam. But they are humans, so I will try to do my best,” Goffin said.
Just how good of a start Goffin can get off to against Djokovic should go a long way in determining if Goffin can reach his first Slam semi-final and further shock the top half of the draw.
Against Nadal at Roland Garros, it took Goffin two sets to find his top level. Repeat that performance against Djokovic, and the Serbian's spotless streak at the All England Club likely will continue.
In the top half's other quarter-final, a pair of first-time Wimbledon quarter-finalists will battle when 23rd seed Roberto Bautista Agut and 26th seed Guido Pella face off.
Bautista Agut leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 2-0 and has quietly reached his second Slam quarter-final (2019 Australian Open). The 31-year-old Spaniard is the only quarter-finalist who has not dropped a set, and he should be the fresher of the two when he and Pella face off for the third time.
Bautista Agut has spent six hours, 48 minutes on court, only one minute more than Federer, who has been the most efficient of the eight quarter-finalists. Pella, meanwhile, has spent the most time on court of the eight remaining men, nearly six hours more than Bautista Agut.
Pella has stunned two former Wimbledon finalists en route to the last eight – 2018 finalist Kevin Anderson and 2016 runner-up Milos Raonic. The Argentine is tied with Nadal for the most clay-court wins this season (21), but his grass-court tennis has garnered just as impressive headlines. Last year, Pella came back from two sets down to upset 2017 finalist Marin Cilic.
On clay, you could expect a quintessential baseline affair between the two. But on the slick grass of SW19, look for the all-court games of both players to come out, especially Pella's as the Argentine might try to shorten points and conserve energy as often as possible.
“It's a very nice feeling, because seriously I never thought that I was going to do a quarter-final in a Grand Slam,” Pella said. “I have a very tough match in the next round, but I will keep fighting, keep playing, and if I can have some chances, maybe I will take it.”
Did You Know?
The quarter-final between Bautista Agut and Pella is the first Wimbledon quarter-final with no Top 20 players since No. 24 seed Jerzy Janowicz defeated unseeded Lukasz Kubot in the last eight in 2013.