David vs. Goliath: Goffin faces 7-time Cincinnati champ Federer in SFs

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WATCH—It's also a big day for doubles in Cincinnati:

Roger Federer vs. David Goffin
Not before 7:00 p.m. ET, Tennis Channel Plus

Federer is 6-1 against Goffin, but the Belgian had the last laugh: Goffin shocked Federer at the 2017 ATP Finals, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

A seven-time champion at this Masters event, Federer was nearly ousted in the quarterfinals by Stan Wawrinka, but he withstood a barrage of heavy shotmaking—and a slight case of the shanks at ill-advised moments—to prevail, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (8), 6-2, in an all-Swiss, late-night quarterfinal

Goffin, meanwhile, has quietly snuck through this draw, slaying some of 2018's top performers along the way. Stefanos Tsitsipas, Kevin Anderson, and Juan Marin del Potro have all been felled by the diminutive shotmaker.

Goffin is at his best absorbing power and redirecting it, relying on precision and counterpunching to capitalize on whatever angle or opportunity his opponent affords him. His court coverage and technical skill enables him to glide around the court and switch effortlessly from defense to offense.

None of this threatens Federer the way it would other players. Federer doesn’t have to fear getting bludgeoned off the court by Goffin, but he will have to guard against frustration against an opponent who is clearly confident. Goffin will try and force Federer into ill-advised shot selections, but it's still a favorable matchup for the Swiss. That, plus the rhythm Federer regained from last night, suggests fatigue would be the main reason the 37-year-old would fail to advance to Sunday’s final.


Novak Djokovic vs Marin Cilic
Not before 2:00 p.m. ET, Tennis Channel Plus

After losing his first 14 matches to Djokovic, Cilic has won their last two meetings. It's a mental wrinkle that could influence what's sure to be a physical tug of war.

From a ball-striking perspective, this matchup is sensational. Both players possess the rare ability to hit clean and comfortably from both wings, and neither player possesses a weakness from the ground. 

But tactically, this matchup is a disaster for Cilic. As well as the 6'6" Croat serves, Djokovic has the best return in tennis; he thrives on withholding free points from his opponent. If Cilic is unable to earn free points on his serve, his options are limited Look for Djokovic to rip his cross-court forehand off the court to Cilic’s forehand, funneling replies to his legendary two-handed backhand.

Novak has won every Masters 1000 title except for Cincinnati, despite five separate shots at the title. Barring an extraordinary performance from Cilic, he will likely make his sixth appearance in the final on Sunday.


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