Read & Watch: Evergreen Benneteau Knocks Out Goffin In Melbourne
Veteran Frenchman through to third round for first time since 2013
Allez, Bennet! As last hurrahs go, former World No. 25 Julien Benneteau is enjoying an Indian summer.
The 36-year-old caused the biggest upset so far at the Australian Open on Thursday evening, when he held his nerve – in his final season as a pro – to beat seventh-seeded Belgian David Goffin 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-1, 7-6(4).
Having fallen to No. 696 in the ATP Rankings two years ago, primarily due to abductor surgery, the Frenchman could have easily called it quits. But the sentimental favourite, with an 0-10 record in ATP World Tour finals, returned and worked his way back.
Competing in intense heat, wild card Benneteau, who received on-court treatment, first served for the match at 5-4 in the fourth set. But he fell to 0/40 – courtesy of two double faults and a backhand winner from Goffin. Then, a forehand error from Benneteau ensured Goffin a route back into the match.
Goffin, at 4/2 in the tie-break, looked poised to capitalise on Benneteau’s wobble to take the pair’s fourth meeting to a deciding set. But five straight groundstroke errors from the World No. 7 gave Benneteau the win – his third Top 10 victory in as many months.
Memories endure of Benneteau’s run to the Rolex Paris Masters semi-finals in November 2017, when he overcame Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Goffin [6-3, 6-3] and then No. 3-ranked Marin Cilic before falling to Jack Sock.
Back in the Australian Open third round for the fourth time – the first since 2013 (l. Tipsarevic), World No. 59 Benneteau will now challenge Italian No. 25 seed Fabio Fognini, who knocked out Evgeny Donskoy of Russia 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 in his second-round match.