It was Goffin who won their only previous meeting, in the first round of the French Open way back in 2012, and though the Belgian has improved massively since then, the Czech is an extremely difficult player to face and will not make life easy for the 11th seed.
This will be the third match of the day on Show Court Three, and the winner will face 20th seed Ivo Karlovic or wildcard Andrew Whittington in the third round.
So far in Melbourne
Neither Stepanek or Goffin have had it easy in Melbourne, with the Czech having to come through qualifying and the Belgian being severely tested in his opening match.
Stepanek was fairly comfortable in his opening round match, seeing off Dmitry Tursunov 6-2 7-6 6-3. However, he has had to play three qualifying matches- against Sekou Bangoura, Blaz Kavcic, and John-Patrick Smith- which could potentially mean that the 38-year-old is worn out heading into this match.
For the second match in a row, Goffin will be facing a qualifier, though he’ll be hoping things are much easier this time around. The Belgian faced the big-serving American Reilly Opelka in the first round, eventually prevailing 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4; he could do with a more comfortable victory in this match if he wants to go far, though he may not get it.
Though he may be worn out, there is no doubt that Stepanek will give it his all and will fight very hard on court. The Czech will need to serve well against Goffin, who has improved his returning, though is naturally aggressive enough to dictate play and take control of rallies, which could be key against an opponent who probably won’t be able to overpower him. Furthermore, Stepanek should look to come into the net as much as possible and try to kill off points, though must not let Goffin get him moving, as he may struggle.
Goffin should be able to recover fairly well from his first round match, though may be feeling the effects of it slightly; he should be trying to keep the rallies short as possible, so he can maintain energy and not let Stepanek frustrate him. He won’t be able to overpower the Czech, so he’ll need to be aggressive as he can possibly and place his groundstrokes well, to try and grind his opponent down. Furthermore, Goffin will also need to be prepared for Stepanek to come into the net, so will need to test the Czech and be precise with his groundstrokes when Stepanek does so.
This should certainly be a fun match to watch and there will be several entertaining points; it will likely be testing for both players. Despite his five-set marathon the other day, Goffin should be able to win this as he is in better form, though Stepanek won’t make things easy.
Prediction: David Goffin in four sets