'Idol' Federer braced for poster boy Goffin

When Roger Federer was winning his first Wimbledon in 2003, David Goffin was a starstruck child, hanging posters of the great Swiss on the wall of his bedroom in the Belgian city of Liege.

Now, nine years on, the 21-year-old gets the opportunity to play against his idol with a French Open quarter-final place at stake.

However, just one week ago, such a scenario had looked impossible.

Goffin, the world 109, had lost in the qualifying tournament at Roland Garros and was ready to pack his bags for home.

But when top French player Gael Monfils pulled out of the event with a knee injury, he was handed a lifeline into the main draw as a lucky loser -- an alternate on standby -- and has not looked back.

Goffin has become the first lucky loser to reach the last 16 of a Grand Slam since compatriot Dick Norman at Wimbledon in 1995 and the first at Roland Garros since 1978.

"I haven't realized what has happened. Not yet. Maybe next week," said baby-faced Goffin, making his Grand Slam debut.

"Now I'm playing against Roger, and I can't believe it. When I was young I had a lot of pictures of him in my bedroom. I will give it my best on Sunday."

Thanks to his efforts this week, Goffin's Grand Slam record now stands at 3-0.

Federer, nine years his senior, has 16 Grand Slam titles in his total haul of 74 career trophies, a 235-35 match record at the majors as well as more than $70 million in prize money.

"I've been watching Roger playing on TV for so many years. He has always been my favourite. He has perfect tennis, perfect technique, and I like the man," added Goffin. From a human standpoint, he is a great person, whether on the court or outside the court. So I expect a very difficult match on Sunday. I don't know exactly how I should prepare for this match, but I'll try and have fun."

Goffin, whose best performance on the main tour so far was a quarter-final appearance in Mumbai in January, has looked comfortable so far at Roland Garros, defeating experienced Radek Stepanek and Arnaud Clement in the first two rounds.

A straight sets win against Poland's Lukasz Kubot paved the way for his dream Sunday date with Federer.

When Federer was told of how Goffin regarded him as an idol growing up, the world number three admitted it was a position he was getting accustomed to.

"Not the first time it happens. It's strange, weird. It's everything you can imagine. I'm happy to hear it, though," said Federer, the 2009 champion in Paris. "So it's a big match for him, and for me, too. It's gonna be an unusual match for me, knowing that now."

Federer admitted he knows little of his opponent, but had seen glimpses of what he may face on Sunday after he watched Goffin beat Clement.

"I've seen him around, but it's a nice game, he's a smooth ball striker and talented, obviously. Otherwise he wouldn't be coming that far in this tournament."

Date: 02.06.2012, Source: AFP


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