Playing Novak Djokovic is like facing a killer eight -legged spider that can reach everything you throw his way — so says the coach of his Wimbledon quarter-final opponent David Goffin.
The defending champion and world number one takes on Belgian 21 st seed Goffin on Centre Court on Wednesday for a place in the semi – finals.
Goffin’ s coach Thomas Johansson said he had a game plan to drag Djokovic out of his comfort zone.
“ It ’s almost impossible to find any weaknesses in his game, ” the 2002 Australian Open champion said of Djokovic .
“He doesn ’t have a big serve but it is very , very accurate . From the baseline , he’ s a wall.
I remember hitting with him many years ago ; it’ s like hitting against a spider . It feels like everything is coming back .
“You really have to try to put him in uncomfortable positions on the court — otherwise he will kill you.”
Goffin, 28 , has matched his best- ever performance at the Grand Slams by reaching his first Wimbledon quarter-final.
Four – time Wimbledon champion Djokovic , 32 , has a 5 -1 record over Goffin — but the Belgian won their last encounter , on clay in the Monte Carlo quarter -finals in 2017.
“It ’ s very important for David to have beaten him once . Most of the guys never have , ” Johansson said .
“ Novak is the guy to beat here. You can talk about Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer but he is the defending champion .
“We are the underdog — and we like it .”
Johansson , 44, has been working with Goffin on tactics to contain Djokovic , namely a much – improved slice and drawing the top seed to the net .
“We will try to find a good solution because rallying with him is not an option , ” the Swede said .
– Stress and nerves –
Goffin is only the fifth Belgian man in history to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals — and, along with Xavier Malisse in 2002, the only one to do so since 1924.
Malisse, 38 , said the odds were heavily in favour of Djokovic — but Goffin could still spring a surprise.
“It ’ s going to be tough. Everyone knows it — including him ,” the former world number 19 said .
“But it ’s one match . If he’ s on good form and Djokovic is off a bit , gets a little stressed or nervous , that can change things.
“It ’ s about 60 to 65 per cent in Djokovic ’s favour. ”
Goffin’ s route to the last eight has seen him knock out Bradley Klahn , Jeremy Chardy , 11 th seed Daniil Medvedev and Fernando Verdasco .
Belgium’ s Kim Clijsters , a two- time Grand Slam champion , said her compatriot had been playing better than ever .
“It ’ s very exciting ,” said the retired 36-year – old .
“He has nothing to lose . It ’ s been a lot of fun watching him do well and seeing him being more emotionally outgoing and showing his fighting spirit .”