Goffin Beats Light & Haase In Comeback
Roland Garros has been the site of many memories for 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up David Goffin. Some, like his first Grand Slam quarter-final in 2016, are great. Others, like being forced to retire due to a fluke accident — he got his foot stuck in a tarpaulin cover — last year in the third round, are not as great. When he trailed two sets to none against Robin Haase on Sunday evening, it appeared the No. 8 seed's tournament was heading toward the latter category.
But Goffin battled back to oust the Dutchman, beating Haase 4-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-0 to advance to the second round for the fourth consecutive year. The 27-year-old won 17 of the match's final 18 points to set a meeting against #NextGenATP Frenchman Corentin Moutet, who defeated Ivo Karlovic for the second time in as many FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, 7-6(7), 6-2, 7-6(5), for his first Grand Slam victory.
"It was a good victory," Goffin said. "Obviously when you are down two sets to zero, you're not on the right track. But I was happy to be able to overturn the situation."
Goffin has proven his prowess on the red dirt, reaching the quarter-finals at two of the season's three clay-court ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events. He also made the semi-finals in Barcelona, before falling against World No. 1 Rafael Nadal.
But it appeared that Haase, who had trailed the pair's FedEx ATP Head2Head series 1-4, was ready to turn their rivalry around. The World No. 44 broke five times in the first two sets to take a commanding lead. But as the sun began to set on Goffin's tournament, light began to fade in Paris. And suddenly, as Haase's level faded with it, Goffin's rapidly climbed. And the Belgian won the final 12 games of the two-hour, 52-minute encounter to advance.
"We were expecting a storm, and it might have rained. But finally, the light at the beginning of the fifth set was okay, and I was obviously on a track where I wanted to continue," Goffin said. "I didn't want it to stop. He focused on that, and he wasn't able to get back into the match, and that's how I seized the opportunity."
Gael Monfils also got off to a slow start, but quickly recovered to begin his 12th campaign at Roland Garros, defeating countryman Elliot Benchetrit 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-1.
"The first round at Roland Garros is never easy," said Monfils. "But when you're playing against a young player, I always look at things in a different way, because he's never played a best-of-five sets match."
The 2008 semi-finalist (l. to Federer) looked to be in trouble, losing the opening four games of the match before dropping the first set, but raced back in emphatic fashion to book his place in the second round. Monfils broke serve on nine occasions and won 87 per cent of net points (7/8) en route to victory.
"From the moment when I felt better physically, I knew I was going to get him to really play," said Monfils. "I was going to make it harder for him, and this is what put me back in the match."
Monfils had lost three of his four matches on European clay this season heading into the first-round encounter. But this year's Doha champion showed signs of his best tennis in front of a packed crowd on Court Suzanne-Lenglen to book his place in the second round.
"I think I did everything I could," said Benchetrit. "I was ready to fight for each point. I know that the first set was a good set. The next ones weren't as good, because Gael was stronger afterwards."
The No. 32 seed Monfils will meet Slovakia’s Martin Klizan for a spot in the Round of 32. Monfils is tied at 1-1 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with the left-hander, who defeated Serbia's Laslo Djere 7-6(6), 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-1.
Did You Know?
Gael Monfils owns a 32-11 record at Roland Garros. The Frenchman’s best result came in 2008, when he lost to Roger Federer in the semi-finals. Since then, Monfils has reached the quarter-finals on three occasions, losing to Federer in 2009 and 2011 and Andy Murray in 2014.