Tenth seed Mardy Fish of the United States needed all of his guile and experience to deal with the firebrand challenge of 21-year-old Belgian wild card David Goffin before clinching a place in the last sixteen at Wimbledon.
Goffin was beaten in straight sets with 30-year-old Fish winning 6-3, 7-6(6) 7-6(6) in two hours and 16 minutes on No.3 Court and is now well-positioned to attempt to reach the quarter-finals for a second year in succession.
Fish underwent treatment for a heart problem in May and is now playing in his 10th Wimbledon. He had already beaten one wild card in these Championships - Britain’s James Ward in the second round — and now Goffin is a representative of the new breed.
"I was playing better than the last two matches. It was windy, windy conditions, and I used that to my advantage because I have played a lot of matches like that. I was very satisfied to play well. I will take tomorrow off, my body will need it for sure,'' said Fish.
''I have had a good draw here. I haven't had to play anyone in the top 50 yet and these are matches which I expect myself to win.''
Goffin, who broke into the top 100 earlier this month at No.64, fought tenaciously to try to stay in the hunt but in the end had to bow to the superior court craft of the American.
Fish had the first set after 28 minutes but Goffin counter-attacked in the second, serving first and Fish had to stay with him and hope to dominate in the tie-break. Fish stayed with his young opponent before finishing with a smash for a two-sets lead.
In the third set, Goffin missed a break point in the fifth game and had a different problem in the sixth game when he slipped on his right foot behind the baseline. He recovered quickly enough to win the next point with a backhand pass and then take the game.
Goffin, who beat Australia’s rising star Bernard Tomic in the first round, ensured that Fish would not be able to run away with the match, even when he started serving in the third set tie-break. Goffin won four points running, two of them with precise backhands down the line to lead 4-1. But Fish won the next three points, two of them with his 16th and 17th aces, and clinched his victory when Goffin missed a backhand.
In the final analysis both players had reasons to be satisfied-ish for the chance to maintain his challenge, Goffin for proving that his first wild card at Wimbledon was well merited.