Major Talk #8 – David Goffin

David Goffin is one of the most solid all-around players on the ATP Tour. In a wide-ranging interview, the world No 10 talks about his slow and steady rise up the ATP rankings and how he feared the worst when he suffered an eye injury in Rotterdam in 2018.

August 5, 2020
The figures

Belgium’s David Goffin has put together an impressive career that has seen him overcome major obstacles, both on the court and off. The current world No 10 owns four ATP titles and has taken his country to the Davis Cup finals on two occasions. He’s reached as high as seven in the world, played the title match at the Nitto ATP Finals and reached the second week of a major on eleven different occasions. 

But it hasn’t been easy by any means for Goffin. As one of the smallest players on the ATP Tour, he’s always had to work that much harder to have success. 

“I was rather late developing physically in adolescence,” he told Tennis Majors. “I was a lot smaller than the other players when I was 14 or 15 years old. The results were not good – when, at 16, there were already big, strong bearded men, I was still the little kid who looked younger than 14.” 

Goffin learned from an early age to play a style of tennis that can thwart those big men he is referring to. He is quick, agile and a whiz at taking the ball on the rise, which serves to take time away from his opponents. 

“I was trying to take the ball early, I was trying to find solutions against players who were stronger than me,” he said of his junior days. “But the results were still difficult and the Belgian Federation hesitated to keep me. It was a bit of a hard time for me.” 

Goffin reached the round of 16 for his first Grand Slam appearance

Goffin’s story is about perseverance and intellect as much as it is talent. He finally found his way in the tennis world and nowadays he is the consummate pro, a deserving member of the ATP’s elite. 

“I started to grow, keeping my qualities of speed,” he said. “I caught up with the players that were more powerful than me.”

Goffin looks back with amazement at his first Grand Slam main draw appearance in 2012, when he reached the round of 16 as a lucky loser and faced Roger Federer on Court Suzanne Lenglen.  

“Already I was in a euphoric moment at this Roland-Garros,” he said. “I was playing really well before the tournament.”

Goffin Federer Roland Garros 2012

Goffin says that losing in the third round of qualifying actually helped him that year. 

“In a way it liberated me,” he said. 

Goffin: “I am still a fan of Federer”

By the time he faced Federer his three main draw victories helped him relax, but it wasn’t easy against an idol like the Swiss. 

“I had posters of him. I am still a fan of him,” he said, adding: “I had never played against him and finally it happened. I had two points to lead two sets to love, and obviously with his experience he was able to turn the situation around.” 

Goffin also talks about the harrowing experience he had at Rotterdam in 2018 when a ball glanced off his racquet and struck his eye during his semi-final against Grigor Dimitrov. 

“I was really scared,” he said. “For 24 hours it was all black in one eye. I couldn’t see at all from that eye. I was in a bit of a panic and right away after I went to the hospital after the match, it was necessary to check that the retina was not damaged. I didn’t not have to go through an emergency operation but I wanted to regain my sight.” 

It took a while, but Goffin was able to reclaim his health. 

“We had to put drops in my eye for several hours and then, little by little, it came back and I started to see the light.” 

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