Resurgent Goffin says he can still bother the ATP’s best
At 31, and fresh off his sixth career title, David Goffin has commenced a climb back up the rankings. On Thursday in Monte-Carlo he’ll look to take another step.
2021 was a season he would most certainly like to forget. David Goffin turned 30 just before it started, when it was over the Belgian likely felt a lot older, after losing his final six matches of the season and officially ending his season immediately after the US Open due to a knee injury.
“Unfortunately I won’t be able to compete again this year in 2021. It’s been a tough year with some injuries with my ankle earlier this year and my knee is bothering me for too long now,” Goffin said on social media. “So I took the decision not to play again, not to compete this year. I will take the time now for my body. It’s important to take the time to fully recover.
“I need it, my body needs it. I think those four months will be necessary to come back stronger in 2022.”
Good health, good timing, good results…
Most certainly stronger, Goffin has made his words sound like a prophecy. The Belgian has attacked the court with a clean bill of health and it shows in his results over the last two weeks. Fresh off his sixth career title, which came at Marrakech last week, Goffin is showing signs of the player that peaked in the rankings at No 7 in 2017 and was still a card-carrying member of the ATP’s top-10 when the pandemic hit in 2020.
On Wednesday he eased past Great Britain’s Dan Evans, 7-6(5), 6-2 to set a clash with Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Win or lose, Goffin is enthused about his current form. The 31-year-old, currently ranked 47, is healthy, and gaining confidence.
“Since the beginning of this year, I really wanted to do well,” Goffin told reporters on Wednesday. “My knees were a lot better, so little by little I was able to find my rhythm and confidence also. Little by little, I found the right mindset…”
Goffin says that his run to the quarter-finals at the Phoenix Challenger this March helped pave the way for his success on clay, where he has run his winning streak to seven matches.
“It started being a lot better in the challenger of Phoenix,” he said. “I got better and better, and now that we are on clay, it boosted my confidence. The fact of having two or three difficult victories against [Pablo] Andujar, [Roberto Carballes] Baena, [Federico] Coria, all these clay courters in Marrakech made me very confident.
“Now I feel good. My timing is a lot better. The general approach during the past weeks was a lot better too. So I was convinced it would go well.”
Goffin – the work must never cease to be a top player
It has been no secret that injuries have plagued Goffin over the years, and he has spoken regularly about his myriad run-ins with the injury bug. In 2018 he was struck by a ball in the eye and it would affect his vision and confidence for months. He has also struggled with ankle and knee injuries. Those difficult times caused Goffin to sink in the rankings, and on Wednesday the Belgian admitted that it’s not easy to climb back up. He says it takes a tremendous amount of dedication to compete against the depth of the ATP Tour in its current form.
“The level is so high right now that you cannot stop working,” he said. “You have to work a lot all the time. The hard work I did lately allowed me to be where I am today, and I’m quite proud.”
Goffin on tennis after the Big 3 – no need to worry
As an experienced veteran of the tour that owns victories over the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, Goffin is happy to speak about the legendary status of the Big 3. He is proud to have taken part in a golden era for men’s tennis, but he tells reporters that the sport will be fine, even after the greats of the game have hung up their racquets.
“There will be plenty of new things happening. When Sampras and Agassi stopped, everybody was saying it’s going to be a catastrophe, and you saw what happened. We had the best generation of all time with Federer and Nadal. So I think it’s very exciting.”— David Goffin
“Well, of course when Federer, Nadal will stop, it’s going to hurt,” he said, adding: “We are lucky to have known that generation. I was able to play against them, and I can even say I beat them at least once, all of them. It was incredible.
“But I’m not worried, because it’s going to be very exciting. We will have new winners of Grand Slams, new players will be at the top once Rafa and Djoko will be gone, and younger players will rise very quickly, like Alcaraz. Maybe Sinner will also do well.
“There will be plenty of new things happening. When Sampras and Agassi stopped, everybody was saying it’s going to be a catastrophe, and you saw what happened. We had the best generation of all time with Federer and Nadal. So I think it’s very exciting.”