David Goffin sets Belgian tennis audience on fire, and qualifies for the quarter-finals of the European Open in Antwerp

Goffin has rarely reported to the Scheldt in optimal condition in previous years. In 2020 he struggled with the aftermath of a corona infection, this year he is struggling with the aftermath of a flu. Heavy coughing fits in recent days saddled him with a painful diaphragm and loins. And that he looked even paler than usual betrayed that far from all hindrance was behind him.

Despite those physical concerns, Goffin started the game strong. In the first game, the 31-year-old from Liège was unable to convert a first break point, but afterwards he seemed to take the set early. A convincing save game was followed by a first break: 2-1. Too many unforced errors prevented Goffin from retaining that advantage. From a 2-1 bonus, it became a 2-3 deficit via a counterbreak. With a wonderful backhand, the 2017 Sportsman of the Year again forced two break points in the ninth game, but neither was converted. Not 5-4, but 4-5. So he had to serve to stay in the set and did so with verve: 5-5. In the tiebreak he raised his level a bit. With aggressive and stylish tennis, as witnessed by those 23 winners, Goffin won the first set completely deserved.

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Goffin and Schwartzman had already fought each other five times before, of which the Belgian came out on top four times. Only in Antwerp, yes, did the Argentinian triumph. That scoop was not followed up yesterday. “I had the confidence to start the second set from that good tiebreak,” said Goffin. And guess what… The Belgian number 1 started to serve even better, to attack the net more often and to find the lines even more often. Despite his nippy legs, Schwartzman couldn’t walk anymore and Goffin soon struck a decisive gap.

The 6-2 result clearly showed the difference between the two men in that second set. “I am very satisfied with the level I have achieved.” A globetrotter like Goffin rarely plays in his own country. “Then it makes it all the more gratifying to get so many people behind me. I can support even more fans against Richard Gasquet tomorrow.”

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Goffin sees place in quarterfinals as “boost”

“I already felt better, I had to cough less and could save energy,” said Goffin, who had to deal with a flu attack last week. “I think I can look back on a successful match. I systematically increased my level and played a strong tiebreak in the first set. After that I served better and played tennis aggressively, but I had to do that to beat him. I felt confidence to come to the net and take it out, which is a positive sign.”

Goffin is once again alternating highs and lows this season. He already had some bitter defeats but also made it to the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and took the scalp of world number one Carlos Alcaraz in Astana.

“But that’s why I don’t draw any conclusions from today’s match. I see it as a new boost to end the season on a positive note. That today against the number 19 in the world went more smoothly than in the first round against Gilles-Arnaud Bailly? That might show how strong that young guy can play tennis,” said the resident of Liège with a smile.

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