Dominic Thiem and David Goffin will be going head-to-head for a spot in the World Tour Finals semis when the familiar foes face each other again on Friday afternoon.
Goffin is leading the head-to-head series 6-3 at the ATP level and 7-3 overall, including 4-1 on hard courts. Their only completed indoor contest (not counting one first-set retirement by the Belgian) came four years ago in Basel, where Goffin got the job done 7-6(4), 6-3. They have squared off twice in 2017, with Goffin prevailing 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-2 at the Australian Open and 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3 in Monte-Carlo.
The latter marked a rare clay-court loss to someone other than Rafael Nadal for Thiem, who won the Rio de Janeiro title, finished runner-up to Nadal in Barcelona and Madrid, and reached the French Open semifinals before falling to the eventual 10-time champion. A typically disastrous second half of the season saw Thiem turn in only a few decent results, one of which was a fourth-round appearance at the U.S. Open–but that ended in an epic collapse against Juan Martin Del Potro from 6-1, 6-2 up.
Goffin’s recent months have progressed in different fashion. His Roland Garros campaign ended abruptly in the form of an ankle injury, but he has been in fine form since his post-Wimbledon return. The world No. 8 advanced to the last 16 in New York, captured back-to-back titles in Shenzhen and Tokyo, and made a run to the Basel semifinals.
Goffin has produced a mixed bag so far in London. He upset a hobbled Nadal 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-4 only to get clobbered by Grigor Dimitrov 6-0, 6-2 on Wednesday. Thiem’s two-year history at the O2 Arena has been surprisingly solid–a surprise given how poorly he often fares at other events during the fall swing. He went 1-2 last year, with a three-set loss to Novak Djokovic, and is 1-1 through two matches this week (lost to Dimitrov 6-3, 5-7, 7-5; beat Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 3-6, 6-4).
“I’m very happy and pleased that I get the chance to play for the semifinals on Friday,” Thiem said of his virtual quarterfinal showdown against Goffin. “Not much calculating. The winner [goes] through. We had some big, important matches in the past…in the deep rounds of slams. This one’s going to be another one. We know each other very well. He played a very good match here (against Nadal); one very bad match (against Dimitrov). I don’t know what to expect.”
Not only has Goffin’s form been erratic at the O2 Arena, but he is also a question mark from a physical standpoint. Although he insists that he is–or is close to–100 percent, the seventh seed may not have been moving at his absolute best against Dimitrov. If Thiem can play a smart match by choosing the right times to unleash his backhand, he should advance to the semis.