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Goffin outplays Gasquet to reach maiden Masters 1000 Series final in Cincinnati

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 17 Aug 2019
  • David Goffin beats Richard Gasquet in Cincinnati Masters semifinals
  • Maiden ATP Tour Masters 1000 Series final for world no. 19 Goffin
David Goffin celebrates reaching his first Masters 1000 Series final (PA Sports)

David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 Series final in Cincinnati.

World no. 19 David Goffin defeated Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-4 to reach the first Masters 1000 Series final of his career in Cincinnati, snapping a four-match losing streak in semifinals at this level.

Goffin is the ultimate survivor of the carnage in the bottom half of the Cincinnati Masters draw, which looked the weaker half of the draw from the start with Roger Federer and defending champion Novak Djokovic both drawn in the top half, and became the land of opportunity for a first-time Masters finalist when second seed Rafael Nadal withdrew after winning the Rogers Cup and the likes of Alexander Zverev and Kei Nishikori failed to make it into the third round.

Goffin and Richard Gasquet shake hands after the match (PA Sports)
The Belgian was ranked as high as world no. 7 in 2017, the year he reached the biggest final of his career so far at the Nitto ATP Finals, but a freak injury in Rotterdam last year had an impact on his ranking and he struggled with an elbow injury in 2018 too. In March of this year, he went so far as to drop down to Challenger level in search of matches and confidence.

But Goffin has been on the upswing since the grass-court season, when he made the final of the Gerry Weber Open and the Wimbledon quarterfinals, and defeated Taylor Fritz, Guido Pella and Adrian Mannarino to reach the Cincinnati quarterfinals before benefiting from a walkover from Yoshihito Nishioka, who was suffering from food poisoning.

Unexpected rest days have thrown players off their rhythm before now, but not so Goffin, although he confessed he was uncertain initially how to organize his time on Friday.

'It was almost a day off, so I was fresh and physically 100 per cent today to play against Richard. I was lucky and managed to play some good tennis and managed my emotions,' he said.

'I was completely lost yesterday. I didn't know what to do. Do I have another practice session, go to the physio and have some treatment? I didn't know. I decided to go on the court for some practice and do what I normally do after.'

Whatever he did, it worked when he took the court to face Gasquet. The French veteran had groin surgery at the beginning of the year and his ranking has slipped to world no. 56 as a result, but he has played some great tennis at the Cincinnati Masters to beat Andy Murray, Diego Schwartzman and the highest seed remaining in the bottom half of the draw in the quarterfinals, Roberto Bautista Agut. He had also won the most recent match he had played against Goffin.

Gasquet shows his frustration (PA Sports)
But it was the Belgian who looked the sharper throughout. He was the first to draw blood, breaking for a 3-1 lead with a sumptuous backhand winner down the line. A drop shot not quite executed well enough gave up a point for Gasquet to break straight back, but Goffin staved it off and held with an ace for 4-1, riding that break of serve to take the first set 6-3.

Goffin does not have the biggest serve in the game but he was using it to phenomenal effect on Saturday, serving at only 48% in the first set but hitting his spots well enough to lose only two points behind it, and protecting his second serve to the tune of winning 85% of points played behind it by playing with greater accuracy and aggression off the ground. He was consistently the quicker to redirect the ball down the line and was hitting those shots off both wings with far greater accuracy than Gasquet, who looked ragged by comparison.

Gasquet did break to lead 2-0 in the second set but was immediately broken back by Goffin as the French player netted a volley. Goffin was unable to make it three games in a row as Gasquet saved break point to hold and lead 3-2, but he got the break two games later and served out the match without difficulty, wrapping up victory 6-3, 6-4 in just 77 minutes.

Coach Thomas Johansson applauded as Goffin celebrated reaching a Masters 1000 Series final for the first time after four times falling short, including once at this same tournament 12 months ago when he was forced to retire against Federer.

'I'm really happy,' Goffin said. 

'It's a tournament I like and I've played the best tennis here in the past few years. I'm really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It's a great moment for me.'

Goffin will face Novak Djokovic or Daniil Medvedev in the Cincinnati Masters final on Sunday. He is 1-6 vs Djokovic and 1-1 against Medvedev.

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Goffin outplays Gasquet to reach maiden Masters 1000 Series final in Cincinnati

World no. 19 David Goffin takes advantage of the wide-open bottom half of the ATP Cincinnati Masters draw, defeating an underwhelming Richard Gasquet in straight sets to reach his first Masters 1000 Series final

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