By Richard Pagliaro | Thursday, February 16, 2017
David Goffin rallied past Dutch wild card Robin Haase, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, reaching his first career Rotterdam quarterfinal.
Photo credit: @SofiaOpen.bg
The Rotterdam draw had been a dead-end road for David Goffin in the past.
Winless in three prior appearances at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, Goffin found himself on another problematic path against home favorite Robin Haase and Dutch fans.
Watch: Dimitrov is Haunted
The last Dutchman standing put up a fierce fight right to the end, but Goffin showed grit and flashes of ball-control brilliance rallying into the Rotterdam quarterfinals with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 win.
The victory vaults the third-seeded Belgian into his third straight quarterfinal where he will face Grigor Dimitrov a rematch of Sunday’s Sofia final that Dimitrov won, 7-5, 6-4.
The fifth-seeded Bulgarian beat lucky loser Denis Istomin, 7-6 (7), 6-1, raising his ATP-best record to 16-1.
This is an important week for Goffin, who is defending semifinal points at Masters events in Indian Wells and Miami next month.
Bidding for his first Rotterdam quarterfinal since 2008, Haase hit a tremendous running forehand strike crosscourt to break, rouse the crowd and snatch a one-set lead.
Taking the ball early to effectively turn Haase’s pace against him, Goffin broke for 2-1 and consolidated for a 3-1 second-set lead. Goffin dropped just five points on serve streaming through the second set.
In the eighth game of the final set, Haase narrowly missed a crosscourt forehand that would have given him break point. Goffin shrewdly flipped a forehand lob winner over the lanky Dutchman leveling at 4-all.
The Belgian’s backhand deconstructed the Dutchman in the ensuing game.
Darting to his left, Goffin flicked a backhand pass. From nearly the same spot on the court, Goffin held his shot for a split-second forcing Haase to commit before lifting a backhand pass down the line for break point. When Haase scattered a forehand, Goffin gained the break and a 5-4 lead.
That game took a toll on Haase’s psyche. He rubbed his head in frustration banging a pair of backhands into net as Goffin earned double match point.
Chasing down a running forehand to extend the point, Goffin ended a tough fight with an exquisite backhand drop shot winner.
In a clash of Croatian Davis Cup teammates and good friends, Marin Cilic battled by Borna Coric, 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, to advance to his first quarterfinal of 2017.
Cilic cracked 11 aces and surrendered just seven points on his second serve. Cilic stormed through five consecutive games to open the match before Coric, who denied nine of 12 break points, responded taking a set off Cilic for the first time to force the decider.
A draining eight-deuce game ended with Cilic earning the break for a 5-4 lead in the decider. The 2014 finalist served out a one hour, 57-minute match to raise his record to 3-0 against his compatriot.
The top-seeded Cilic will play 2011 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for a semifinal spot.
The sixth-seeded Frenchman dismissed veteran lefty Gilles Muller, 6-4, 6-2, yesterday. The seventh-ranked Cilic has been able to break down Tsonga’s backhand at critical stages winning five of their last six meetings, including a 6-4, 6-4 sweep in the 2014 Rotterdam round of 16.
No. 4-seeded Tomas Berdych beat Richard Gasquet, 7-6 (4), 6-1. It was Berdych’s third straight win over Gasquet.
“They were two very different sets," Berdych told ATPWorldTour.com. "The beginning wasn't ideal, as Goran [Ivanisevic – coach] said. I didn't show up for the beginning. Luckily I picked up very quickly, found my rhythm, then played a very good and tough first set. It was a solid tie-break for me.
“From the beginning of the second set I started applying more and more pressure, coming to the net more and he felt that pressure and gave me a couple of chances. An early break helps a lot and it snowballed from there. It was a good performance today."
Continuing his quest for his first final of the year, Berdych meets defending champion Martin Klizan in the quarterfinals. The 13th-ranked Berdych is 3-0 lifetime against the 73rd-ranked Slovak, winning eight of the 10 sets they’ve played.