David Goffin has had his fair share of luck this tournament, but he manages to stick in there and lives to fight another day in the US Open 2017 4th round against emerging Muscovite Andrey Rublev.
The Belgian World #10 survived a grueling five-setter against Guise Pella in Round 2 and benefitted from Monfils’ withdrawal mid-match because of injury in the last round. Rublev, who won his first ATP title this summer, on the other hand, has been ticking along nicely. He lost his first set in the 3rd round against dangerous floater Damir Dzumhur.
Rublev’s crunching forehand is his weapon of choice
Obviously, at only 19 years of age, there is still rawness to Rublev and plenty of areas for improvement. People talk about his big serving, but that is not his main strength and doesn’t compare to other big servers left in the tournament, like Kevin Anderson or Juan Martin del Potro. In the last match against Dzumhur, Rublev lost the 3rd set in which his first serve percentage was 71%.
Rublev plays a counterpunching game; against 7th seed Grigor Dimitrov in the second round, he played it to devastating effect. He could give Sharapova a run for her money in the grunting stakes, but he is an exciting prospect. The achievement in beating Dimitrov in three good sets has been overshadowed a little by the focus on fellow young gun Denis Shapavolov. There is an easy argument to say that Rublev is the bigger talent for the future, but his playing style does not attract as much attention.
Goffin will need to be on his guard
Early losses to Hyeon Chung and Nick Kyrgios at the Canadian and Cincinnati Masters, respectively meant the Belgian entered this tournament in questionable form. This is unchartered territory for Goffin, as well as his young opponent. Monfils’ mid-match withdrawal in the 3rd round meant that Goffin progressed beyond this stage at the US Open for the first time ever.
Rublev’s ball-blasting could put early pressure on the 9th seed and put him in danger of joining Dimitrov in his list of victims. This is already a great tournament for the rising Russian.
A potential quarterfinal against Nadal is the prize
The winner of this match plays the winner of Rafael Nadal v Alexander Dolgopolov. For Rublev, this must be a great incentive to measure where he is truly at in what would be his first ever meeting with the sensational Spaniard.
This would make for a great match and give Rublev the chance to make a real name for himself, just as Shapovalov did when he beat Nadal in the Rogers Cup.
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