As is often the case with round robin events, there is the danger that you will have meaningless matches and that will be the case on Thursday afternoon when Novak Djokovic faces the alternate David Goffin after Gael Monfils succumbed to the injury he picked up in Stockholm last monthly.
Djokovic was already through to the next round but is still playing for 200 extra points and a sizeable addition to his prize money also. Milos Raonic pushed the World No.2 in his previous match, falling to a 7-6 7-6 defeat. Raonic had a minibreak in the first set tiebreak and a set point at 6-5* in the second but Djokovic managed to avoid getting drawn into a needless three setter like he had been in his opening match.
“I thought it was a good performance. I should have maybe been a bit more aggressive in certain points, maybe too static in certain points. Maybe that caused a little bit passive game.” Djokovic said with regards to his performance against Raonic. Coming up big on the aforementioned vital points bodes well for him in the knockout stages with Stanislas Wawrinka or Kei Nishikori the likely opponent for Djokovic.
Goffin can pocket a hefty $179,000 reward if he pulls off the shock against Djokovic but it seems unlikely for the Belgian who is the alternate here even though he is currently No.11 in the rankings. The absences of Rafael Nadal and Tomas Berdych meant he was the first choice were someone to withdraw injured. It seemed a strong possibility that Monfils would not last the week after not playing for a month and his later comments after losing to Milos Raonic further pushed that idea.
Goffin is 46-24 in main tour matches this year with his most notable runs being back-to-back semi finals at Indian Wells and Miami while he made one final this year – losing to Nick Kyrgios in Tokyo. Goffin is 0-4 against Djokovic in his career and coming into this event cold against a Djokovic gaining in confidence means it is unlikely that much is likely to change.
Prediction – Novak Djokovic in straight sets