After whitewashing Tomas Berdych, David Goffin brings quietly fearsome form to this quarterfinal clash with Andy Murray at the Rome Masters.
Murray vs Goffin Rome Masters tennis is live from Rome on Friday at 2pm local/1pm BST. Watch and bet on tennis live from Rome at 365
Andy Murray continues his Rome Masters campaign as he takes on David Goffin, who is in fearsome form, in the quarterfinals on Friday at the Foro Italico.
Murray received the welcome news on Thursday that he will return to world no. 2 on Monday, just in time to be seeded second at the French Open, due to Roger Federer’s defeat at the hands of Dominic Thiem. It’s already been a good week for Murray, who has progressed through the draw with little drama, beating Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 6-3 and Jeremy Chardy 6-0, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals despite not playing his best tennis: He was lucky to escape Chardy in straight sets, in fact, with the French player leading by a break in the second set before Murray broke back and then sealed the match on a Chardy error.
‘It could have been more comfortable in the second set,’ Murray said. ‘I had 3-2, 0-40 and, I think, four break points in that game, didn't get them. Then I had a couple of mistakes in the next game and the momentum shifted a lot.
‘But I managed to get it back by winning a very tough game at 4-3 and then finished the match off well. But apart from a few minutes of the match, I played very well. I was making it difficult for him and played a lot of different shots. I used a lot of variety so that was good.’
It’s not the first stroke of luck Murray’s had this week. That came when he was placed in the bottom half of the draw, not the loaded top half, which included Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Kei Nishikori, Nick Kyrgios, Milos Raonic and Roger Federer (and still includes the first three at the time of writing). Murray’s half looked decidedly less intimidating and it continues to open up after the withdrawal of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and the exits of fourth seed Stan Wawrinka, eighth seed Tomas Berdych and ninth seed David Ferrer, who all lost on Thursday. If Murray gets past David Goffin in the quarterfinals, he will face either unseeded Juan Monaco or lucky loser Lucas Pouille for a place in the Rome Masters final – an absolute dream of a draw at this level, to be honest.
David Goffin (Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Goffin, of course, will do his best to turn it into a nightmare and nobody is taking that prospect lightly after the Belgian absolutely eviscerated Berdych on Thursday, demolishing the world no. 8 6-0, 6-0. It’s not the only good result of the season for Goffin, currently ranked world no. 13, who reached the semifinals of the Indian Wells and Miami Masters as well as the round of 16 at the Australian Open and scored victories over Marin Cilic and Borna Coric in Davis Cup, but it is the most eye-catching. We used to be able to say confidently that Goffin in the past couple of seasons was reliable against players ranked below him, but not a threat to the top 10: He is still just 3-26 against top-10 players, but after wins against Wawrinka and whitewashing Berdych, perhaps that is starting to change.
‘He's obviously a top player,’ Murray said. ‘Now he's been around top-20 in the world for the last couple of years, and again, this year he's played very well. I didn't see any of the match today, but to win love and love against one of the best players in the world, you've got to be feeling good.
‘It was a tough match in the Davis Cup final when we played, you know, but I managed to win that one. Hopefully I learned a few things from playing against him on the clay and I’ll try and execute a good game plan tomorrow. It worked well in Ghent.’
Murray was alluding to his victory over Goffin in the 2015 Davis Cup final, a signature moment for both players and the most famous of his three wins over the Belgian. It was also the most recent, following straight-sets victories at Wimbledon 2014 and Paris in 2015. Murray and Goffin have never played on outdoor clay – they were due to do so in Rome last year, funnily enough, but Murray pulled out.
The head-to-head bodes well for Murray, but this is a different and improved Goffin. Belgium may not have won the Davis Cup last year, but punching above their weight to make it to the final – and perhaps even more the two wins he scored in the first round against Croatia in 2016 – has clearly left an impression on Goffin and boosted his confidence. What he doesn’t have is weapons, but one can win without them if the court positioning and transitioning forwards is good enough and it was spectacular against Berdych. On the other hand, Murray is unlikely to put up the kind of limp resistance Berdych offered. It’s still a tough match for the world no. 3 but it’s also a significant opportunity at the Rome Masters.
Murray vs Goffin is scheduled on Centre Court in Rome on Friday at 2pm local/1pm GMT