Read & Watch: Goffin Continues Mastery Over Delpo To Reach Cincy SF
David Goffin already led by a set and a break against Juan Martin del Potro, but the Belgian wasn't ready to hop into celebration mode just yet. At 1-1 in the second set, Goffin broke with a backhand return winner but he didn't let out a shout; instead Goffin, very businessman-like, calmly walked to his chair for the changeover.
The 11th seed applied that focus all match to beat the World No. 3 7-6(5), 7-6(4) and reach his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final of the season and fourth of his career.
“It was a tough day,” Goffin said. “It was a great intensity against Delpo and some rallies with his backhand crosscourt, so it was not easy tactically to find a solution. But at the end, two tie-breaks and I made it. So I'm really happy to be in the semi-final for the first time.
“Tonight was a great battle. So I'm feeling great, moving well. I think when I move well, that's the key for my best tennis.”
Goffin extended his FedEx ATP Head2Head series lead against Del Potro to 3-1 by reaching his fourth semi-final of the year and his first since April (Montpellier, Rotterdam, Barcelona).
Goffin lost his opener in three of his past four tournaments, but he started to turn it around at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., last month, reaching the quarter-finals before losing Greece's #NextGenATP star Stefanos Tsitsipas, a loss he avenged in his Cincinnati opener.
“I'm just fighting since the first match. I'm moving well. I'm feeling fresh mentally. And match after match it was better and better,” Goffin said. “The first win against Tsitsipas my first round gave me some confidence, and then I knew that was the match that I needed to feel more comfortable on the court. And it was better and better against Benoit Paire and Kevin Anderson.”
Hard courts have been good to Goffin over the years. He has won almost 63 per cent of his matches on the surface (147/234), his second best surface after clay.
As much as possible, Goffin tried to turn his quarter-final against Del Potro into a baseline sprint, keeping Del Potro moving from side to side and opening up the court well by targetting the Argentine's backhand and then exposing the open forehand side.
Goffin was also keen on attacking the Argentine. He claimed the opener with a stick backhand volley, his ninth successful trip to the net of the set (12/14 for the match).
Del Potro broke back in the second set and had three set points at 5-4 with Goffin serving, but Goffin erased them all and the Belgian came back once more in the tie-break, winning seven of the final eight points to advance. It was the second match of the day for both players. Goffin beat Kevin Anderson in straight sets earlier Friday, but Del Potro needed three sets to beat Aussie Nick Kyrgios.
Goffin will next meet Roger Federer, who beat Stan Wawrinka 6-7(3), 7-6(6), 6-2. Goffin beat Federer the last time they played to reach the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals title match, but Federer leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 6-1.
“He plays so well here in Cincinnati. He loves the centre court. It's fast courts, fast conditions, so he likes it. And it's not going to be easy,” Goffin said. “It's always special to play against Roger. You have to be focused on what you have to do and not on his side, because you know that all the crowd will be behind him and you have to play your best tennis and be focused on your game. So it will be tough, like always.”