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 on Friday in the semifinals. The Spaniard beat No. 26 Guido Pella of Argentina 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
Djokovic is seeking his fifth Wimbledon championship and 17th Grand Slam trophy overall.
The quarterfinals on the other side of the draw were scheduled for later Wednesday: No. 2 seed Roger Federer vs. No. 8 Kei Nishikori, and No. 3 Rafael Nadal vs. unseeded Sam Querrey.
If Federer and Nadal both won, their semifinal meeting would be the first match between them at Wimbledon since the 2008 final.
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.
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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.
Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich