As the French Open looks to open play on Sunday, there has been much discussion about whether Novak Djokovic will finish the career Grand Slam, whether Rafael Nadal will be able to find his Roland Garros form again, and whether Roger Federer‘s choice to withdraw from the tourney will really enable him to be healthy for the upcoming grass court season. However, beyond those major talking points, there are many intriguing stories on the ATP Tour as younger, hungry tour pros are looking to finally breakthrough on the grand stage of the French Open. David Goffin is one of those players. Goffin is looking for French Open success to echo the tour success he has found over the past 12 months.
David Goffin Looking For French Open Success
A major key to Goffin’s new found success and an important key for him moving forward at the French Open is his increased first serve percentage. At 5’11, Goffin is one of the smaller players on the men’s tour. His serve, although efficient, isn’t a pure weapon for him, as it is for other pros like a John Isner, a Tomas Berdych, or even a Stan Wawrinka; however, this year Goffin has committed himself to a higher serve percentage and the results are speaking for themselves. As the ATP data reported in the Spring, Goffin’s first serve percentage has increased some 14 percentage points from last season to this season. At 61%, Goffin is ranked 26th on tour this year. By landing so many first serves, bigger, more aggressive opponents aren’t able to attack his weaker second serve, which often just spins into the court and sets up in the taller opponent’s strike zone. These results are obvious, as Goffin has had impressive wins this year over big hitters like Tomas Berdych ( who he double bagled at Rome), Stan Wawrinka (Indian Wells), and Marin Cilic (Indian Wells) among others. If Goffin is able to keep his first serve percentage in the 60s, he will be able to start a majority of his points at least in a neutral position, which allows him to use his superior foot speed and ability to shape and work a point to his advantage.
A Favorable Draw
Another reason for Goffin’s possible breakthrough at the French is a favorable draw. As the 12th seed, Goffin enters the tourney with his highest Slam seeding ever, and he has been rewarded for his success. Goffin opens the tourney against young French wildcard Gregoire Barrerre, then would most likely face Paolo Lorenzi of Italy. Goffin would then face Philipp Kohlschreiber for a spot in the round of 16. Although, Kohlchrieber has always been a tough out for any opponent, his game is very similar to Goffin’s, lacking pure power, and relying on mobility and craftiness. Goffin leads their head to head 2-1, but all 3 matches have been close battles. If Goffin can advance as the favorite, he then would most likely face Jo Wilfred Tsonga for a place in the quarterfinals. Goffin and Tsonga have split matches on clay, but Tsonga has always struggled with the pressure to perform at his home slam, as well as continually being streaky and unreliable at times in big moments. There is a real and probable chance Goffin would find himself against arguably the greatest clay courter of all time, Rafael Nadal for a chance to advance to the French Open Semis. While every round provides its own challenges, Goffin avoided dangerous 5-8 seeds like Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori who he has much worse head to head results against.
Although Goffin’s has had a few questionable losses leading into the French, he still has been producing some of his best tennis heading into the French. If he is able to continue to elevate his level of play, he has a real chance to make the deepest run he has ever had into a Slam tournament, and possibly set him up for a great summer, and continue his march to London and the ATP Tour Finals.
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