There is, of course, a psychological element to this match-after all, this is tennis-and Federer should forget about his lopsided defeat to Nadal at the French Open and instead recall that he won their previous five meetings, all on hard. At 7-7 in the fifth, with the light fading, the match would have been suspended two games later had Nadal not broken serve to wrap up a 6-4 6-4 6-7 6-7 9-7 victory. Gofin took only four points on the return in three games and couldn't do anything to impose his shots and move Novak from the comfort zone, suffering three breaks to drift further away from the finish line.
With nothing left in the tank, Nishikori won just five games against Rafael Nadal in their Roland Garros quarter-final last month but Federer expects to face a tougher prospect when he looks across the net on Wednesday.
Not long after that ended on Centre Court, the No. 3-seeded Nadal finished off Sam Querrey, 7-5, 6-2, 6-2, at No. 1 Court.
Nadal and Federer last faced each other on the All England Club grass in 2008 when the Spaniard outlasted the Swiss in an nearly five-hour long encounter to lift his maiden Wimbledon title.
The eighth-seeded Nishikori jumped out to an early edge by breaking in the very first game, enough to give him that set.
What an afternoon we could be in for unless, as you'd imagine will happen, Djokovic smashes his way to a quick three-set win in time to get home and watch Neighbours, if it's still on TV.
Federer said he was unaware that he had become the first player ever to win 100 matches at the same Slam.
JL: I'm sticking with my original pick from the beginning of the tournament: Roger Federer. It was really important for me to get the lead in the second set and protect it. He won the pair's most recent encounter, on clay in 2017, and this looked a bit like it was being contested on that slower surface, too. "He was dictating the play from the baseline", Djokovic told Wimbledon.com after the match.
On the grass at Wimbledon, though, there might not be so many of those rallies.
"Well, " the 31-year-old Bautista Agut said, "it feels better to be here in London".
Djokovic did to Goffin exactly what he does to so many opponents on so many surfaces and at so many tournaments: He takes their best shot, deals with it and then wears them down. Then as I'm signing, the guy says, Congratulations for your 100.