Defending champ Djokovic brushes aside Goffin; back in Wimbledon semis

Defending champ Djokovic brushes aside Goffin; back in Wimbledon semis

At one point in his quarterfinal win, the Serbian reeled off 10 consecutive games to move into his 36th major semifinal.

Things looked dicey early on—he was down a break in the first set—but the moment Novak Djokovic was in trouble, he took his game to a whole new level. The world No. 1 won 10 straight games at one point to eventually breeze past David Goffin, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2, to return to the last four at Wimbledon on Wednesday.

"I think he started well. He was dictating play from the baseline and most of the rallies went his way. He deserved to be in the position of leading 4-3 and serving," Djokovic told the BBC afterwards. "I played a good game and managed to break him back and I got through the set. Obviously things could've gone a different way - I don't know how the match would've gone had I lost the first set - but I was very happy how the second and third sets went.

Djokovic went into his quarterfinal match with a 5-1 head-to-head record against Goffin, but the Belgian's win came in their last meeting, on clay in Monte Carlo in 2017, and Goffin came out swinging this time too. He brought up two break points in Djokovic's second service game and broke a few games later for 4-3. He also went up 30-0 in his 4-3 service game.

But the match turned completely from there as Djokovic reeled off 10 straight games to build a 6-4, 6-0, 1-0 lead. Goffin ended the streak by holding for 1-all in the third set, but Djokovic opened a 4-1 lead from there, and finished off the No. 21 seed after an hour and 56 minutes with a heavy crosscourt backhand that drew one last backhand unforced error from Goffin.

"I made everything right from the start, and as soon as he was a break down, he came back to 4-all," Goffin said. "Everything was a little bit deeper, a little bit better - he served a little bit better as well, a lot of first serves. It was tough after that. There were some rallies, but in the end he was on top of everything. He was getting more confident."

 

Djokovic has now won 31 of his last 32 matches at Grand Slams, with his only loss in the last year coming five weeks ago to Dominic Thiem in a five-set semifinal at the French Open. He's now through to the ninth Wimbledon semifinal of his career, going 5-3 in his first eight, and the 36th Grand Slam semifinal overall, holding a 24-11 record. The Serb also recorded his 70th career win at Wimbledon, more wins than he has at any of the other majors; he has 68 at the Australian Open, 68 at the French Open and 69 at the US Open.

"I've been playing my best tennis of the tournament in the last two rounds," Djokovic said. "Today in the second and third sets against Goffin, who was in form, I felt like I managed to dismantle his game and always find the right shots. I'm very pleased with the performance."

Next up for the No. 1-seeded Djokovic will be No. 23 seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who battled past No. 26 seed Guido Pella, 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal.

Djokovic leads Bautista Agut in their head-to-head, 7-3, but Bautista Agut has won both of their encounters in 2019, rallying twice from a set down: 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4, in the semifinals of Doha and, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, in the fourth round of Miami. The Spaniard has also pushed the Serb to four sets in all three of their previous meetings at Grand Slams, most recently at Roland Garros last year. This will be their first meeting on grass.

"I've lost to him before. He has a really solid game," Djokovic said. "He makes very few mistakes. He plays very flat. He's consistent. He's focused. He doesn't have many setbacks in his game, so you've got to win the match against him. I have tons of respect for him."