Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson will look to continue his excellent form when he takes on the struggling David Goffin in Cincinnati. Anderson backed his commendable effort at the Championships with a run to the last four in Toronto, though he may be disappointed to have lost to Tsitsipas in three in the semifinals there. Goffin, in contrast, is in desperate need of some positive results after a difficult season. But who will come out on top?
Surprisingly, despite the considerable amount of time both men have spent competing in the upper echelons of the game, Anderson and Goffin have never met before at Tour-level. But they have faced off once before, with that match coming nine years ago in Italy at the Challenger in Todi on the clay in the quarterfinals. The teenaged Goffin, who had qualified into the main draw, won fairly comfortably 7-5 6-3 though he fell to Simon Greul of Germany in the semifinals.
Path to the third round
Anderson began his Cincinnati campaign in the second round after receiving a bye. That saw him face Jeremy Chardy of France, a long-time friend and practise partner of his. After an excellent June, during which he won 12 of his 14 matches, Chardy has been struggling for form but he impressed in dismantling Fernando Verdasco 6-1 6-2 in the first round. He pushed Anderson in the first set, but after losing it on a tiebreak his challenge faded as Anderson advanced 7-6 6-2.
Goffin, the 11th seed in Ohio, opened his tournament against the potentially dangerous Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Greek had defeated him two weeks previously in Washington and was coming off a run to the final in Toronto. But that good form had left him with little left in the tank against Goffin who won 7-5 6-3. The Belgian then rallied from a set down against the mercurial Benoit Paire, finishing strongly to oust him 5-7 6-4 6-2 and reach the third round.
How do they match up?
This match should provide an engaging contest between the aggressively minded Anderson and the more defensive Goffin. Anderson’s biggest weapon is his serve, and there are few better on the Tour, but he has quality off the ground to go with it. His forehand is dangerous in its own right and his backhand is rock-solid, though more limited offensively. Where he can be exposed is through his lack of mobility, particularly if pushed out wide.
Goffin lacks Anderson’s power on serve. Indeed, it is when stepping to the line that the Belgian is most vulnerable and Anderson would do well to return with as much controlled aggression as he can muster from the outset. Off the ground, Goffin is well-equipped. His groundstrokes are extremely reliable and he spreads the court well from both wings. He is also a fine mover, and Anderson will have to be at something approaching his best to hit through him.
Though if both men were at their best there would be little to separate them, that has not been the case over the past few months. Whilst Anderson has been going from strength to strength, Goffin has been struggling just to get match wins on the board. He has certainly done little to suggest that he can beat a player of Anderson’s quality. And so though form may only be temporary, it will be decisive in this clash. Anderson in straight sets.