SF Preview: Federer Faces Goffin, Djokovic Meets Cilic
After an action-packed Friday in Cincinnati, the Western & Southern Open semi-finals look set to provide high-quality drama as the final North American ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event of the season reaches its climax.
Seven-time champion Roger Federer bids to extend his unbeaten streak in Cincinnati semi-finals (7-0) when he faces first-time semi-finalist David Goffin. Goffin defeated 6'8" Kevin Anderson and 6'6" Juan Martin del Potro on Friday to reach the final four.
Five-time runner-up Novak Djokovic is aiming to move one step closer to completing the Career Golden Masters by capturing the only ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title missing from his resume. Djokovic will face 2016 champion Marin Cilic, who is currently on a nine-match winning streak at the Lindner Family Tennis Center.
Meeting for the first time since a shock semi-final defeat at the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals, Federer and Goffin will meet for the eighth time in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry (Federer leads 6-1). Having recovered from a set down to end Federer's remarkable comeback season in London last year, Goffin will be aiming to record his second successive victory over the 37-year-old to reach his maiden Masters 1000 final.
Federer, on the other hand, will be looking re-establish control of the rivalry, having dropped just two sets in their opening six tour-level clashes. Federer is in pursuit of a record eighth Cincinnati crown and will be eager to reach his first Masters 1000 championship match since the BNP Paribas Open in March (l. to Del Potro).
After opening his career with a 1-4 record in Cincinnati, Federer has since won 44 of 48 matches at the Ohio-based tournament. The seven-time titlist has looked sharp in his first appearance since a quarter-final loss at Wimbledon to Kevin Anderson and is aiming to reach his sixth final of the season (3-2).
Coming into Cincinnati, Goffin had won just two of his seven most recent tour-level matches. But the Belgian has rediscovered his form this week with impressive victories over three Top 15 opponents, including World No. 3 Del Potro. Goffin will be looking to reach his first Masters 1000 final on his fourth attempt, having fallen at the final-four stage most recently at the 2017 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (l. to Nadal).
Earlier in the day, Djokovic will hope to end a two-match losing streak against Cilic to reach his first Masters 1000 final since the 2017 Internazionali BNL d'Italia (l. to Zverev). Djokovic won the opening 14 matches in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Cilic, but has since lost both meetings against the 2016 Cincinnati champion. Since arriving at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in May, Djokovic has emerged victorious in 25 of his 29 tour-level matches.
But, despite his current form, the 13-time Grand Slam champion has been forced to work hard for his place in the semi-finals. Djokovic has been taken to a deciding set in three of his four matches this week, including his victories over defending champion Grigor Dimitrov and former World No. 3 Milos Raonic.
Cilic will be keen to carry the momentum of his dramatic victory over Djokovic in their most recent encounter at the Fever-Tree Championships in June. Cilic saved one championship point before lifting his second trophy at the prestigious grass-court event in London after two hours and 57 minutes.
Like Djokovic, Cilic has also been forced to play multiple three-set matches en route to the semi-finals. But the 29-year-old has also found his best tennis under pressure, building on an encouraging run to the Rogers Cup quarter-finals last week (l. to Nadal).