David Goffin, so feather light it looks as if a breeze might knocked him over, faces a storm as Roger Federer blows in.
Goffin stunned Dominic Thiem 6-1 6-4 to earn a semi-final date against Federer on Saturday when Grigor Dimitrov and Jack Sock match up in the other last-four encounter
The Belgian beat world No.1 Rafa Nadal earlier in his group but freely admits he has no idea how to stop the Swiss master’s campaign to lift a record seventh title.
I started okay. I was hitting the ball well, some good points. I was serving okay also. But Dominic didn't miss, didn't miss a lot. He served well David Goffin
The seventh seed, who has lost all six of his meetings with the 19-time Grand Slam champion, said: “I’ve never found a key to beat Roger. Honestly, I don’t know what to do.
“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 (where Federer beat him on route to the title).
“In Basel, it was not easy. He played well. He didn’t miss. He was really aggressive, as always. He returned so well. So it was not easy in Basel. I hope that he’s not going to play the same match.”
Goffin agrees it is a necessity for him to alter his game plan from the one which overcame a Nadal on one of the Spaniard’s lesser surfaces as he is prepares to meet a player on one of his favourite courts
He said: “Yes, of course, it’s going to change my game plan. I had a small idea how good he is on this surface in Basel. But, yeah, Rafa and Roger, they have completely different games. I played Rafa this year on clay court and on this surface, and it was completely different matches.
“The rebound is higher on clay, it’s heavier. It’s tough to control the ball on the clay. Here it is a little bit easier. There is no bad bounce. You can take the ball earlier. He defends a little bit. He’s defending much better on clay. He can slide.
“Against Roger, on his best surface, it’s indoor. It’s this surface, along with the grass. There is no wind. It’s tough to play higher, to find the loop when you play here on this kind of surface. It’s not easy. It’s perfect for Roger.
“But I will try, like I said, to do my best to find some solutions, try to play my game, be aggressive. If he’s aggressive and he hit the ball really hard with his forehand, he’s dangerous.”
Thiem made a lively start, opening up a 3-0 lead. But the wheels came off for him as Goffin claimed 12 of the next 14 games.
The Austrian fourth seed double-faulted as Goffin broke back in the fifth game of the contest. Thiem struggled to even get a point and a series of unforced errors handed the initiative to Goffin..
It didn’t get any better for Thiem in the second set as he was unable to find his top game and also cut his knee.
He missed a break point at 4-1 down when he put a loose backhand. It was his 22nd unforced error.
Goffin kept his cool, held and sealed victory with a backhand after a mere 1hr.11min.
The Belgian said: “I started okay. I was hitting the ball well, some good points. I was serving okay also. But Dominic didn’t miss, didn’t miss a lot. He served well.
“My service game was not a bad service game, even if it was a love game. I knew that I was in the match, so I didn’t panic after the first three games. I knew in the past I have the return to break him. I knew I will have some opportunity to break him.
“I did it right after the first three games. After that, I started to feel much better with my return, and I played well until the end of the first set.”
Thiem admitted he failed to “compete well”.
He said: “I’m used to play big events. The thing is that at the big events, there are big players, strong players. If you play bad against them, you will lose easy. That’s the only thing which is tough about it. The bigger the events or the stages get, the better the players are. You have to play well. You have to compete well. That’s what I didn’t do.”