Preview: Wednesday's QF Matches
Wednesday's Australian Open quarter-final winners will receive the same prize – a semi-final berth – but just how special that last-four appearance will feel should vary for all four players taking the court on Day 10 Down Under.
No. 11 David Goffin (BEL) v. No. 15 Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)
FedEx ATP Head2Head: Dimitrov leads 1-0
For Goffin and Dimitrov, the next round is almost brand-new territory. Bulgaria's Dimitrov has reached the semi-finals at a Grand Slam only one prior time – 2014 Wimbledon. Goffin will be going for his first semi-final showing. The Belgian fell during his only other Grand Slam quarter-final appearance, 2016 Roland Garros.
Dimitrov won their only prior FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting, a four-set win that also took place on hard courts at a Grand Slam – 2014 US Open. The 25 year old has looked on target on the Australian hard courts as well.
Dimitrov is 9-0 this season, having beaten three Top 10 players – then-No. 8 Dominic Thiem, No. 3 Milos Raonic and No. 5 Kei Nishikori – to win the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp earlier this month. If Dimitrov beats Goffin, he'll match the best win streak of his career. In 2014, he also won 10 consecutive matches at The Queen's Club and Wimbledon.
“I feel good right now. At the same time [I'm] also humbled with the results I have had so far. But now you enter into a different phase of the tournament, so I'm just focused on that,” Dimitrov said.
Goffin, as he often does, has gone under the radar at the season's first Grand Slam. But the soft-spoken right-hander has quietly been producing big win after big win. He's fought off two of the game's biggest servers, young American Reilly Opelka and Croatian Ivo Karlovic. In the fourth round, Goffin earned revenge against Thiem, who had beaten Goffin in the Roland Garros quarter-finals last year.
“I knew that I had the level. The key was to play my best tennis in the match and not only during practice,” Goffin said. “But I'm doing that more often than in the past. That's why I'm more confident and I win some more matches.”
No. 3 Milos Raonic (CAN) v. No. 9 Rafael Nadal (ESP)
FedEx ATP Head2Head: Nadal leads 6-2
Nadal has waited nearly two years to get back to a Grand Slam quarter-final. The left-hander last played in a Grand Slam last-eight match at the 2015 Roland Garros, when he fell to Novak Djokovic in straight sets. Beat Raonic and Nadal will play in his 24th Grand Slam semi-final.
The 2009 Australian Open champion will try to stay aggressive against Raonic, who will look for every opportunity to attack. The Spaniard leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry, but Raonic has won two of their past three meetings, including earlier this season in Brisbane.
“He's an opponent that makes you feel that you're playing with a lot of pressure all the time because his serve is huge and he's playing very aggressive from the baseline,” Nadal said. “I need to be very focused with my serve and play aggressive. If I am not playing aggressive, then I am dead, because he plays aggressive.”
Nadal might be more familiar with the Grand Slam quarter-final stage, but Raonic has been there more recently. Just last year, the Canadian ascended to the Wimbledon final and, in Australia, he made the semi-finals, falling to Andy Murray in five sets.
With Murray and Djokovic out, Raonic, the third seed, is the highest remaining seed and likely feels this could be a golden opportunity to capture his maiden Grand Slam title. Raonic was asked to compare his run in Melbourne last year to his Australian success of 2017.
“I think I did it with a lot more conviction this year than I did last year, personally as well. I was playing great this time last year, but I didn't know where I was coming from from the year before,” Raonic said. “Coming together now, putting in a great finish to the season last year, playing what I feel is some of my best tennis right now, it's just a different circumstance, but both pretty special.”