London semifinals preview and prediction: Federer vs. Goffin

The year-end championship was Roger Federer’s personal playground from 2003 to 2011, when he captured the title six times. Now the stomping grounds once again appear to be his as the 2017 event heads into semifinal Saturday.

Federer is 16-0 lifetime against the other three remaining players at the Word Tour Finals, including 6-0 at the expense of upcoming opponent David Goffin. The Belgian has tried and failed against his idol four times on hard courts–and often in less than competitive fashion–since they first squared off in a memorable contest at the 2012 French Open. Goffin stole the first set of that showdown, but he is 1-14 in his last 15 sets against Federer. They most recently faced each other a few weeks ago in Basel, where the Swiss cruised 6-1, 6-2 on his eventual way to the title.

Nobody has been able to beat Federer this fall, a stretch that has seen him recover from a back issue that plagued his U.S. Open–in which he suffered a quarterfinal loss to Juan Martin Del Potro. The world No. 2 is 13-0 in his last three tournaments with titles in Shanghai and Basel to go along with victories this week over Jack Sock, Alexander Zverev, and Marin Cilic. All three round-robin foes were competitive, but Federer still improved to 55-12 for his illustrious World Tour Finals career and his hopes for a seventh title are very much alive.

Even though Goffin has not been 100 percent physically since a freak ankle injury at Roland Garros, he has managed to produce an impressive last three months. The world No. 8 reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open and owns a 19-6 record this fall with back-to-back titles in Shenzhen and Tokyo. Goffin opened in London with a 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-4 upset of Rafael Nadal, got blown out by Grigor Dimitrov 6-0, 6-2, and then beat Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-1 in a virtual quarterfinal clash on Friday.

“I’ve never found a key to beat Roger,” captain obvious commented. “Honestly, I don’t know what to do tomorrow. But I’m going to try something…something different; something that I’ve never done in the past. I will try to do my best to play a better match than in Basel, for sure. In Basel, it was not easy. He played well. He didn’t miss. He was really aggressive, as always. He returned so well…. I hope that tomorrow he’s not going to play the same match.”

That hope is slim, because Federer is in fine form right now and this–as Goffin pointed out–is his best surface along with grass. The 19-time major champion has done no wrong indoors so far this fall, and there is no reason to think he will run into any trouble on Saturday.

Pick: Federer in 2

61 Comments on London semifinals preview and prediction: Federer vs. Goffin

      • Roger, Oliver Paton is the same person who in the 3rd set between Fed and Zverev said he ‘is the only one’ who predicted an upset, but it didn’t happen. It didn’t go his way. This time around, after Goffin won, he is coming here as saying he ‘is the only one who predicted’ the result.

        • I guess the only one in the planet. And predicting in this forum only when Zverev was in a good position in 3rd set and only after the match ended between Fed and Goffin, not before. Well done genius.

    • I hope this big win will benefit him in the future, and not melt down against top4 when he’s on the edge of winning. I believe this will give him great confidence.

      • I think it will, Eugene. These wins are huge for a player like Goffin. He knows he has the game to play with the best, on any surface. He just needs the self-belief, and there’s nothing like these sorts of wins to give it to a player.

  1. Shocker..Strange things can happen in tennis..Goffin who has never beaten Fed beating him on his fav indoors in a pressure match..

    Atleast Rafa was injured when Goffin beat him..Was fed injured too? Or just played poor?

    Good for rafa that he ends with 1000 plus points difference..atleast now no one will say Fed had better season as 1000 pts plus difference is sizeable. If it was just 140, he had a good shot at being best player though being No 2 as he would have had 2 more titles..Rafa now has more final appearances this year and is deservedly best player of the year.

    • That’s not a shocker. Not for me at least. What’s shocking sanju is your obsession over Rafa ending no.1 after he ALREADY has been rewarded the trophy. Too much reassurance.

      • Eugene..You cannot refute that many Fed fans have been going on and on about Fed being player of the year though Rafa ended No 1..Is it not happening all over..by few on this site too? Why did you not stop them? I am not obsessed about Rafa ending No 1..he has and it is a fact..my only grouse is some Fed fans not crediting what he has done this year by deliberately putting Roger above him all the time..and I have been very polite and not made any bad comment on Fed anytime whatsoever as he is incredible ..my grouse is over his few fans (surely you not in that list) crowing about him being better than Rafa this year.

        • Sanju, I see what you mean. But you can’t control their reactions. You can’t make everyone think same way. You only hurt yourself. Other people are entitled to their opinion as long as they don’t discredit anyone. Focus on your circle of influence, otherwise you’re putting yourself at risk to be hurt by something you don’t have control over.

          • I am sooooo happy that Fed’s loss silenced Fed’s worshippers who had been trolling Rafa since Rafa clinched the YE#1 ranking. They created their imaginary ‘Player of the year’ award for Fed in Fedfans’ alternate universe! LOL

    • Sanju,

      I don’t think either Rafa or Federer was injured enough not to play. They obviously thought so too or wouldn’t have played.

      I think it discredits one player’s victory to focus on injury to the other player. After all, Goffin has been injured lately as well. No one would have mentioned it had he lost to Rafa or Fed.

      • Totally agree. When Fedal lose, their fans are too quick to find excuses and maybe ‘lean’ on a potential injury. Come on. This is tennis. You’re supposed to put pressure on your back, knees etc.

    • I think that’s going to be a miracle actually if riches finals at AO. As I said previously after this match against Goffin, the Belgian played very well, but Fed was not himself today. His both FH and BH were very poor especially in the 2nd and 3rd set. Too many UE and serving poor again. That’s not to take anything from Goffin. He overcame himself and I hope he will do it more often against top10.

    • Yeah, afraid so. If that’s the case I’m much sorrier about the back problem resurfacing than the loss. Fed didn’t *need* this title or the ranking points. He’s #2 by a considerable margin. He should have time to get his back problem sorted, if necessary, before the AO. And yes, slams get MUCH harder to win – for most – post 30. Just look at the history books.

  2. That was freakin’ awesome from Goffin… He got wins over Novak, Rafa, and Fed this season. Aside from Stan, who did it twice, I can’t even think of the last person who beat those three guys in one season? Davydenko? Nalbandian?

  3. Just looked at the best match of the year. Dimitrov versus Rafa. I think it was a real brutal match for Rafa and Dimi lokked fresher in the fifth set. Rafa just willed to win.

    Credit to him making the final competitive after that 5 hour encounter.

    I hope Rafa set his scheduling for 2018 . He should be fit for FO no matter what. I think he could have won 2016 FO had his wrist been OK. Only Djoker could have beaten him that year. And Djoker did not play all that great against Murray in RG final.

  4. NNY i saw the first two sets, then i assumed that Federer would cruise through, imagine my surprise to see Goffin come from a set down to win in three, Goffin beating Fedal who saw that coming ?

  5. I Love Rafa, but the GC tennis that Berdych played beating Federer and Djokovic b2b was some of the best tennis ive ever seen him play, at Wimbledon in 2010, sadly he ran out of steam to put up much of a fight in the final against Rafa, Lisicki in 2013 was the same, sorry off topic i know but just wanted to throw that in ….

    • Grigor Dimitrov and J. Sock have to believe that they can win WTF now that Fed is out, I hope this match is competitive.

      I won’t be surprised if D. Goffin wins the whole thing but i am rooting for J. Sock to win it all.

    • Federer couldn’t raise his level from the RR stage, which was far from great, possibly because of tiredness or the bad back surfacing again. Goffin took advantage of that and stepped up his game to the occasion. He said in his pre-match conference that he would bring something new this time and he totally made it, playing more agressively than he usually does against Federer and coming forward to the net, which surprised Fed, imo.

      • David Goffin won fair and square, no excuses.
        I don’t think he won because R. Federer has an injury, he won because he was they better player 2day.

        Congrats to Goffin!

  6. Goffin! Take nothing away from David. He just beat the top 2 players in the world in the same tournament. He said before the match that he was going to do something different, and he did, even after losing the first set. He upped the pace, the aggression, and when serving for the match he didn’t fold like he did when playing Nadal, but came up with some huge serves!

    Roger not at his best, obviously, but Goffin had something to do with that. Props for the biggest win of his career.

  7. Federer and Rafa Nadal are the greatest modern rivals in tennis, but they’re also great friends.
    I’m personally a big fan. Did an illustration of these guys a while back.
    You can check it out and download it for free if you want on the following link:

    https://goo.gl/fvi7HY
    Let me know what you think

    • They are NOT friends.

      Interview with Rafa in Basel on October 19, 2014 (in German):
      Tages-Anzeiger, October 20, 2014: ¤¤ Roger and I get along, but we are not friends.¤¤
      http://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/sport/tennis/Roger-und-ich-verstehen-uns-sind-aber-keine-Freunde/story/11831419

      An excerpt, translated from German by Chris Boardman:
      Question: “How would you describe your relationship with him [Federer]?”
      RAFA: “We understand each other well. But we’re not friends. Not because we are rivals. But because my friends are from Mallorca. Friends are those people who are there every day of your life. With whom one is always in contact. But I always had a good relationship with Roger, always had great respect for him. And he for me. We have achieved many positive things together, for example our exhibition matches around the world for our foundations. I hope we will also maintain this good relationship beyond our careers.”

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