Interview with David Goffin: "I am 22 in the world now, so I feel I’m not far from the top guys"
On his Grand Slam debut in 2012 at Roland Garros, Belgium’s David Goffin reached the fourth round as a lucky loser. Since then, he has been touted as a bright prospect and a player who could be in the top-10 for years to come.
However, it all started in Chennai for the Belgian when, at the 2011 Aircel Chennai Open, he earned his first win on the ATP tour. As a qualifier, he beat India’s Somdev Devvarman to kickstart his professional tennis career.
He went on to have a breakthrough season in 2012, finishing in the top 50, but a wrist injury in 2013 derailed his momentum a bit and saw him drop out of the top 100.
Returning from injury in 2014, Goffin compiled a career-best season, winning his first ever ATP World Tour title at Kitzbuhel before also notching up victory in Metz. He also registered his first ever win against a top 10 player when he beat Milos Raonic in the quarterfinal of the Swiss Indoor Championships at Basel. He finished a career-high No. 22 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, further solidifying his credentials.
Goffin is the No. 4 seed at the 2015 Aircel Chennai Open and he opened his campaign with a tough win over Ricardas Berankis 6-0, 4-6, 7-6(1) on Wednesday. He spoke to Sportskeeda in an exclusive interview.
Q. Hi David, can you tell us a little bit about your work in the off-season and how prepared you feel for the upcoming season?
Physically, I was fit for the new season, have been working on it a lot in the off-season. But it’s never easy to start in the heat and the humidity here. It’s never easy because your hands are sweaty and your shirt is soaked with sweat and makes it stick to your body, makes it heavy.
So it’s never easy to start the season here in Chennai. But I feel I have prepared well for it.
Q. Congratulations on your first match, a hard-fought win. How demanding was the contest physically and mentally, considering it was your first match of the season?
It was a tough match, but physically I was ready and mentally I did not expect to play at the level at which I played in the first set, so I’m happy. The second set onwards, it was not so easy, but I’m really happy that I won at the end. That was the most important thing, to get the victory today, and I hope to get better.
Q. Last year you had a really good campaign, and you also won the ATP Comeback of the Year Award for 2014. How’s the wrist now, and do you have any set goals for the year?
Now, I have no more injuries. My wrist feels stronger than before and, like I said, I’m feeling fit, no more injuries, and I hope it will stay the same for the rest of the year.
My goals for this year would be to first break into the top 20, and then we’ll see as I’ll have an opportunity to go on to maybe the top 10.
Q. Now two years ago, you were one of the players looked at as the next generation of tennis along with a couple of other emerging talents. You are part of the ‘90s generation, who are set to take over from the ‘80s generation. How close do you think you are to that leading pack at this point in time?
I am 22nd in the world now, so I feel I’m not far from the top guys. But I have lot of things to improve to go to the Top 10. Of course, I proved last year that I can win against Top 10 players like Milos Raonic. I beat Tsonga as well once; he was No. 11 at the time, but he was Top 10 before that. And I had good matches against David Ferrer. So I feel I can have the level to do it, but if I need to do it, I have to be consistent through the year, and it begins now.
Q. As far as your game is concerned, if there was one thing that you’d like to improve on through the year, anything specific, what would be it?
I think, my volley. If I have to finish the points sooner, I will have to work on my volley to keep the points short. Also, it will make the matches less physically demanding.
(David Goffin was beaten in the semi-finals of the 2015 Aircel Chennai Open last evening against Stan Wawrinka)