Goffin insight to help de Minaur with Rafa

Glenn Cullen
Alex De Minaur has suffered straight-sets losses to Rafael Nadal in their two grand slam meetings

If Alex de Minaur was looking for a blueprint to upset Rafael Nadal, he may just find it with David Goffin.

The world No.11 was a shock winner over Nadal in their quarter-final singles clash at the ATP Cup but Belgium lost the tie 2-1.

Goffin's match should, however, prove instructive for Australia's semi-final against Spain on Saturday night.

Small-framed players who are nimble of foot, de Minaur and Goffin offer counterpoints to taller competitors and those with power games.

But Goffin made it clear there was a whole lot more to his upset win than just zipping around the court and getting lots of balls back.

It was also a case of using Nadal's power against him, cutting out his time and going for winners.

"I try to play with my best weapons, with my quality," Goffin said.

"And so I have to take the ball early to use the power of Rafa to play fast, to use it to make him run a lot ...

"Rafa ... couldn't play like two or three forehands in a row and make me run. Because as soon as he has time, he dictates. Even with the forehand or backhand, I'm dead, because if I run, I'm dead against him."

Which will make for an interesting match with de Minaur who is perhaps the quickest player on tour but will also need to up his aggression.

De Minaur, who suffered straight-sets losses to Nadal in their two grand slam meetings, will still be a significant outsider for the rubber with Australia's best prospects for a final spot lying with victory for Nick Kyrgios and the doubles team.

Kyrgios will have his hands full with the in-form Roberto Bautista Agut (4-0 in singles at the ATP Cup) but should be a slight favourite despite the Spaniard sitting 19 spots above him in ranking at No.10 in the world.

If the doubles rubber is live, Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt will be sorely tempted to combine Kyrgios and de Minaur again after their heroics against Great Britain.

Serbia face Russia in the first semi-final with a tasty match-up between Novak Djokovic and Russian firebrand Medvedev the highlight.

The world No.2 holds a 3-2 record against Medvedev, who has won their past two encounters.

The opening rubber sees Karen Khachanov play Dusan Lajovic.

"They are playing (in the) morning, so hopefully Novak will not recover well," Russia coach Marat Safin said, with Djokovic enduring a tough three-setter in Serbia's win over Canada.

"Then doubles will be important ones, but I think we can -- we try to do it in the first two matches."