CULPH MEDIA- Jade Culph
Goffin v Dimitrov
Belgium Foot speed v Bulgarian Heat
There is absolutely everything to love about the Australian Open. The friendliness of the people, the world class facilities at Melbourne Park, the city view that you can see from the grounds surrounding the outside courts, the Coopers bar and party zone area packed out, the new city walk that you can take to the tennis and not to mention the tennis is pretty good also. But as the second week begins to unfold there is absolutely nothing better then the marquee matchups that start to come together. Generally by Round 4 everything looks to take shape and the big boys are starting to match up. Today two more Quarter Finals are coming at you and they are must viewing.
David Goffin and Grigor Dimitrov are first up on Rod Laver in the afternoon slot. Goffin is coming off a four set dismantling over Dominic Thiem of Austria while Dimitrov took the same route in a four set win over Denis Istomin. Now both these guys go head to head for a spot in the Australian Open semis. Both are looking to cash in on this one where things go up a notch as the winner takes on either Nadal or Raonic where they will not start favourite.
So what should you be expecting in this match today?? You will see two contrasting styles today and with the temperature nice and cool for Australian Summer standards Goffin gets a huge tick in his column. You see Goffin today will be looking to use his world class foot speed to scamper around the court to hit high volume balls back and he needs to do this for as long as it takes to move through. It is a similar approach he used in the last round over Thiem where things looked to be quite even when really they were not. The heat two days ago was searing and you could see and feel the stress that Thiem was going through. He could feel it and Goffin knew it. Thiem was going all out on huge maximum velocity ground strokes and while it looked extremely impressive as he clocked winners in the corners Goffin knew he was on borrowed time and stayed the course to win comfortably. Same formula today for Goffin.
I first saw Goffin at the US Open in qualifying five to six years ago on an outside court and the thought was who is this 16 year old out here burning through qualifying?? Even then anyone with a tennis brain or the ability to scout could see that the Top 20 beckoned.
The reason I say the cooler temperatures today suit Goffin is because conditions will be a little slower out there which gives him more scope to scamper and defend. Dimitrov will be looking to be the aggressor and he is in super impressive form. Winning Brisbane in the lead up and to now back that up with solid performances til the Quarters is impressive. It’s now time to go to another level. Heat will not be a factor for Grigor. A great pre-season training block in Miami has prepared him for all conditions but today he must be clinical in his approach and clear on his patterns. Dimitrov must not get too comfortable in baseline exchanges. Yes it is fine to rally but when the opportunity comes to strike he must do it with the precision of a rattle snake. He must look to move Goffin around with the forehand and move into the net to finish points. This is the formula for success for the Bulgarian Star.
I have been huge on Dimitrov for a long time now. A long time before he was an established Top 50 player. He went missing for a good two years and it’s disappointing to see a player with the talent and ability to impact the sport in such a huge way squander it. Work ethic, attitude, the trappings of success, laziness, being comfortable were all things that were thrown around on why Dimitrov was languishing in the rankings and not locked in the top ten. But it seems the lightbulb is back on and the switch has been flicked. This is huge trouble for the rest of the Tour and it appears Dimitrov has indeed looked in the mirror and answered some hard questions. Full credit to him, it is not easy to do but the thought of getting to the end and looking back and knowing you could have given more appears to have shaken the Bulgarian into action.
So today Goffin is hoping that Dimitrov does not bring the entire package. He is hoping that there are some cracks in the armour. Goffin will need to have his running shoes in high gear to get through this match. Dimitrov has been so locked in mentally that any opening that appears Goffin must take it. Dimitrov is that confident right now I see few openings or cracks in the armour appearing and the Bulgarian should have too much firepower and win in 4 sets. So it’s Goffin v Dimitrov afternoon session on RLA. The Australian Open provides so much for fans and then of course there is the tennis. It just doesn’t get any better.
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