David Goffin, the Belgian, is riding the high-wave nowadays. Last week he beat Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the ATP Finals in London, and nearly beat Grigor Dimitrov in the finals there.
Goffin is the key to Belgium’s unlikely win.
David Goffin has been gaining strength since the Asian part of the tour this fall where he won two tournaments over consecutive weeks.
David Goffin won his first rubber 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 on Friday against a significant opponent in Lucas Pouille of France. It seemed David Goffin had carried the lessons of the ATP Finals right into the Davis Cup match against Pouille. Goffin played ultra-aggressive and broke the three-match losing streak to Pouille by knocking off 12 aces and 21 winners and never facing a breakpoint in the indoor courts in Lille, France.
However, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 win over Steve Darcis evened the tie 1-1 and made it significantly more competitive.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga versus David Goffin.
The Tsonga versus David Goffin encounter promises to be a mouth-watering match. Their head-to-head is 4-2 in favor of Tsonga, but Goffin has been playing exceptionally well lately and has the game to take-out Tsonga at his very best.
The doubles tie won by France may decide the winner of this Davis Cup.
The fate of this Davis Cup tie will depend on the outcome of the doubles tie, and that encounter was won 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4 by the French duo Pierre Hugues Herbert and Richard Gasquet against the Belgians, Ruben Bemelmans, and Joris De Loors.
Yannick Noah had gone way out of his comfort zone and gambled big by replacing Richard Gasquet with the doubles specialist, Nicolas Mahut. Noah felt that Gasquet’s solid baseline game and Herbert’s net presence would be better equipped, than the experienced team of Herbert and Mahut, to handle the pressures of a five-setter at the Davis Cup.
“Their styles of play are matching well, with Richard really solid from the baseline, and PH, who has a huge presence at the net,” Noah said.
The successful pair of Herbert and Mahut had won two slams, and the Davis Cup tie against Serbia. Yannick Noah’s gamble could have backfired and got him, by his own admission, in the hot seat.
“To me, from a personal standpoint, it’s very nice that they won that match, otherwise I would be on the hot seat,” continued Noah. The gamble to pit Gasquet paid off, and Noah celebrated that win with a dance on the court.
The French seem closer than the Belgians.
The French have to win one more point to win the cup, whereas, the Belgians will need to win both their reverse singles on Sunday. Johan Van Herck, the Belgian captain, however, hasn’t lost hope in his team’s chance to deliver the first Davis Cup for Belgium! “I’m not feeling down at all, Jo made a good impression on Friday, but he will take on a different opponent on Sunday. David has the game to beat Jo. He is confident, and this will be a match worthy of the Davis Cup,” he said.
Can Goffin pull out a rabbit from his hat?
David Goffin’s performance, at the ATP Finals in London, was stellar, and he played an aggressive brand of tennis with the early ball striking, net approaches, and wicked volleying. His ability to maintain the high level of play over extended periods of time was truly the discovery of the event.
Goffin’s diminutive frame could have fooled anyone, including us, into believing that he’d not be able to sustain the high level of tennis against the top dogs of the game. He surprised us all with an exemplary display of aggressive tennis to dominate Nadal, Federer, Cilic and even Dimitrov, for about two sets, in the finals. The proverbial wheels did come off in the third set of the finals, thereby raising doubts about Goffin’s ability to pull off the seven-match slam miracle.
However, Lille, a small French town, is about a hop and step away from the Belgian border, and not yet a slam venue. All our David has to do is win not only his rubber against Jo Wilfried Tsonga but also inspire Steve Darcis to beat Lucas Pouille for Belgium to have a realistic shot against the stronger and more experienced Goliath.