TENNIS: Content to be cast as overlooked underdog, Belgian David Goffin has continued an unimposing run through the Australian Open, notching historic milestones along the way.
The 11th seed became the first Belgian male to reach the Melbourne Park quarter-finals by taming Austrian Dominic Thiem 5-7 7-6(4) 6-2 6-2 in extreme heat.
Bidding to emulate the Australian Open heroics of women's singles champions Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, Goffin is into the last eight of a major for only the second time.
That feat makes him the first Belgian man to reach the quarters of two majors since Jean Washer in 1925.
Post-match, Goffin was elated as he absorbed the ramifications of his first win against top-10 opposition at a major.
"I' feel tired, but feeling so happy," he smiled. "It was a really good match. Not easy. I started the match really well.
"Was not easy to control the ball because the first two sets it was really sunny and the ball, it was bouncing really high, so it was not easy to control the ball.
"But, yeah, I'm feeling so happy that I found my way to find a solution in the second. I serve really well.
"Then I played two really good sets the third and the fourth.
" I'm really happy. It was a big fight, so I'm feeling really good."
Goffin, 25, has been around the grand slam scene for five years without ever taking it by storm.
But he has now stabilised, building self-belief almost by the week.
"It's just that I'm feeling more confident for the moment against top players," he said.
"I had a lot of matches before the tournament. I knew that I was able to fight and to win some matches against big guys.
"I knew that I had the level. The key was to play my best tennis in the match and not only during practice.
"But I'm doing more often than in the past. That's why I'm more confident and I win some more matches."
Goffin has recently employed a new fitness trainer and the fruits of his labour were evi8dent with 38 winners and 29 unforced errors.
His serving, particularly after the first set, was phenomenal, winning 73 per cent of first balls and firing 15 aces and only two double faults.
Goffin will play Bulgarian 15th seed Grigor Dimitrov.
Goffin's brother Simon will return to Rod Laver but not in support of his brother. He is coaching Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who plays Venus Williams for a place in the semi-finals.
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