WIMBLEDON, England — Novak Djokovic took what was shaping up as an entertaining, well-played matchup in the Wimbledon quarterfinals and quickly turned it into a lopsided romp with a 10-game run.
Down an early break, the defending champion grabbed control midway through the opening set Wednesday and never let go, overwhelming the 21st-seeded David Goffin 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 to reach his ninth semifinal at the All England Club.
“Obviously things could have gone a different way,” Djokovic said. “Who knows what the match would look like if I lost the first set?”
The No. 1-seeded Djokovic will face No. 23 Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain or No. 26 Guido Pella of Argentina on Friday.
Djokovic is seeking his fifth Wimbledon championship and 17th Grand Slam trophy overall.
And for the first time since their classic 2008 final, Rafael Nadal will face Roger Federer at Wimbledon.
Nadal set up a much-anticipated rematch by beating Sam Querrey 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 in the quarterfinals. Nadal and Federer will play each other in Friday’s semifinals.
The two met in three straight finals between 2006-08, with Federer winning the first two before Nadal triumphed in a five-set epic widely considered one of the best matches of all time.
Against Querrey, Nadal was broken when serving for the first set at 5-4. But he converted his fourth break point in the next game, then saved three break points at 6-5 before finally clinching the set. The next two sets weren’t nearly as competitive as Nadal broke twice in each and converted his first match point with a forehand winner.
Federer won his 100th match at Wimbledon, and it put the eight-time champion into his 13th semifinal at the All England Club.
Federer was broken in his opening service game but didn’t have much trouble after that, beating eighth-seeded Kei Nishikori 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4. Federer is the first player to win 100 matches at one Grand Slam tournament. His overall record at the grass-court Grand Slam in 100-12.
The 21st-seeded Goffin started well enough against Djokovic at Centre Court on an afternoon that was humid and sunny but not too hot, with the temperature in the mid-70s (mid-20s C).
Hoping to reach his first major semifinal, Goffin claimed three of the first four points that lasted at least 10 strokes. He won the pair’s most recent encounter, on clay in 2017, and this looked a bit like it was being contested on that slower surface, too.
Goffin was able to hang in there at the baseline and his on-the-run passing shots were dialed in. He nosed ahead after 33 minutes by breaking to go up 4-3, then jogged to the sideline with a raised fist.
Until then, Goffin was playing crisply and cleanly. He hadn’t faced so much as one break point against Djokovic, generally considered the top returner in the game.
“He was dictating the play from the baseline,” Djokovic said afterward. “Most of the rallies went his way.”
But that’s when everything changed.
Djokovic did to Goffin exactly what he does to so many opponents on so many surfaces and at so many tournaments: He takes their best shot, deals with it and then wears them down.
Serving at 30-love in the very next game, Goffin double-faulted. Then he flubbed a forehand. After limiting himself to three unforced errors through the match’s initial 49 points, the Belgian made two in a row. The next point was an odd one involving a late line call and a challenge by Goffin, who lost it and faced his first break point.
Djokovic couldn’t convert that one, but moments later, Goffin sent a forehand wide to set up a second. This time, Djokovic ended a 20-stroke exchange with a drop volley winner. And soon enough, he was on his way, sliding or doing the splits along the baseline to get to balls few others would, bending his body this way and that to repeatedly force Goffin to hit an extra shot.
It’s a dispiriting brand of tennis, and it was too much for Goffin. He would wind up going about 50 minutes until he managed to win another game.