Roger Federer continues his quest for an eighth Swiss Indoors title against by far his sternest test yet, former finalist David Goffin. Federer comes into the match in good form after winning the title in Shanghai to keep his pursuit of Nadal at the top of the rankings alive. Goffin, however, is in something of a purple patch himself. Though he lost early in Shanghai he recorded back-to-back title wins in Shenzhen and Tokyo and is very much still in contention for a spot at the O2. But who will come out on top?
Federer and Goffin have met five times so far in their careers and Goffin is yet to score a victory. Their first match came back in 2012 when Goffin made a surprise run to the fourth round at Roland Garros as a lucky loser. Goffin stunned the crowd, and possibly himself, by taking the first set, but Federer reasserted himself after a tight second set to win the match 5-7 7-5 6-2 6-4. Their second meeting wasn’t for another two years, coming in the final in Basel in 2014. Federer was dominant in that match, winning it 6-2 6-2. The Swiss backed it up with another win on home turf a year later, this time in the quarterfinals where he defeated Goffin 6-3 3-6 6-1. The pair then met twice in 2016 with Federer winning both encounters comfortably. He first defeated the Belgian 6-2 6-1 6-4 in Melbourne before winning 6-1 7-6 in Halle.
Path to the semifinals
Federer began his Basel campaign with a dominant win over Frances Tiafoe in the first round. Some had expected the American to give Federer a test after their last match had gone to five sets at the US Open. But Federer dismissed the teenager 6-1 6-3 to reach the second round. He then destroyed Benoit Paire by the same score with the Frenchman never looking in contention. In the quarterfinals, however, where he faced another Frenchman, Adrian Mannarino, Federer was given more of a match. Mannarino silenced the crowd by taking the first set six games to four. Federer rebounded swiftly breaking early in the second and racing away with it six games to one. Mannarino had a chance to break early on in the decider, but after failing to take it faded from the contest and Federer completed a 4-6 6-1 6-3 win.
Goffin opened against Peter Gojowczyk who won his first Tour-level title in Metz last month. But the German could not overcome Goffin who came through a straight sets winner. He backed that up with another comfortable win against Hyeon Chung who recently qualified for the Next Gen finals in Milan. Goffin then faced the fifth seed Jack Sock. Sock pushed Goffin to a tiebreak in the first set, but ultimately the Belgian’s consistency told as he won it eight points to six. One break was enough to seal the second set and the match as Goffin took it 7-6 6-3 to return to the Basel semifinals.
How do they match up?
This contest should make for an interesting clash of styles. Federer is the prime example of the all-court attacking player able to dominate rallies from the baseline and finish points in the forecourt. Goffin is not uncomfortable at the net, but is primarily a counterpunching baseliner in the mould of Gilles Simon. However, unlike the Frenchman, Goffin is more prone to taking the ball early rather than solely soaking up pressure. He will have to do so against Federer. Though he is an excellent mover, there are only three players who can defend well enough to outlast the Federer attack and Goffin is not one of them.
Both men will need to maintain high first serve percentages. Federer’s dipped from its usually lofty standards against Mannarino and the Frenchman was able to take advantage early on. He will not be able to afford such a lapse against Goffin. The Belgian will also need to maintain a good first serve percentage. His second serve is a weakness that can be exploited by the better players and Federer will surely look to do so if given the opportunity.
Goffin should be able to test Federer, but it would be a major surprise to see the Swiss exit the tournament at his hands. Expect Federer to rise to the challenge Goffin presents and surpass in straight sets in front of his home crowd.
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