Goffin Returns To Rotterdam, Earns First Tour-Level Win Since October

David Goffin (photo: ATP Tour video)

ROTTERDAM/WASHINGTON, February 12, 2024 (by Michael Dickens)

As the 51st edition of the ABN AMRO Openthe season’s first ATP 500 event – commenced at the Rotterdam Ahoy, David Goffin, now 33, and a former World No. 7 who played in the Rotterdam final seven years ago, found himself at a crossroads.

The Belgium native, who now resides in Monte Carlo, has slumped outside of the Top 100 – currently he’s No. 133 – and had to navigate two rounds of qualifying over the weekend just to secure a spot in the 32-player main draw. He defeated No. 105 Gregoire Barrere of France and No. 159 Gijs Brouwer of the Netherlands, both in straight sets. Against Brouwer, Goffin saved three set points in an opening-set tie-break.

Goffin has qualified a tour-leading three times this season – at the Australian Open, Marseille and Rotterdam – and his 6-4, 6-2 qualifying win over Barrere avenged last year’s first-round loss to the Frenchman.

On Monday afternoon, Goffin found himself in the Centre Court spotlight at Rotterdam Ahoy against 18-year-old Dino Prizmic of Croatia — 15 years his junior — looking for his first ATP Tour win since last fall at Antwerp. Since October, Goffin had lost three straight tour-level main draw matches. In between, he finished last season by playing Challenger tournaments in a variety of European locales: Brest, France; Bergamo, Italy; Helsinki, Finland; and Danderyd, Sweden. His best result was reaching the final in Bergamo. This year, he has played Challengers in Canberra, Australia, and Ottignies-Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium, all in search of raising his game and improving his ranking.

Goffin started well against the 171st-ranked Prizmic, who received a wild card following his near-upset of World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the first round of the Australian Open. The Belgian won the first set after breaking his opponent for a 4-3 lead. Goffin nearly made it a straight-set victory against Prizmic, coming back from 2-4 down, then saving eight set points during what would become a lengthy, 26-point tiebreaker. He had match point at 8-7 but was stymied by his opponent. Eventually, Prizmic pulled out the tie-break 14-12 with a nifty forehand drop shot that caught Goffin off balance and sent the match to a decider.

In the final set, though, Goffin quickly jumped out to a double-break lead and never looked back. He got stronger and played smarter down the stretch. Goffin secured a satisfying 6-4, 6-7 (12), 6-1 victory on his second match point after Prizmic hit an eighth-shot backhand return long.

The win was Goffin’s ninth career Rotterdam victory and he did it by hitting 25 winners to 35 unforced errors, compared to 20 winners and 31 unforced errors by Prizmic. Goffin converted seven of 12 break points and outpointed his opponent 106-100 to move into the second round against either No. 5 seed Alex de Minaur of Australia or American Sebastian Korda, who play Tuesday.

Afterward, in an on-court interview, Goffin was asked about his memories of coming to Rotterdam. “It’s great,” he said. “To come back and win is always amazing. Every year, this tournament is set up better and better. It’s one of the best events in the world.”

Around the Rotterdam Ahoy

Former World No. 3 Milos Raonic of Canada, now ranked 309th but appearing thanks to a protected ranking, has earned an ATP Tour win in a 14th different season (2010-21, 2023-24) with his 7-6 (5), 6-4 win over Dutch wild card Jesper de Jong in an hour and 42 minutes. Making his third appearance at the event, which includes reaching the 2015 semifinals, Raonic struck 20 aces and hit 32 winners overall against the 141st-ranked de Jong. He outpointed him 76-69 for his first win of the season, which moved Raonic into the second round against either No. 8 seed Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan or Borna Coric of Croatia, who are on Tuesday’s order of play.

No. 29 Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands saved two third-set match points and pulled out a three-set victory over No. 26 Lorenzo Musetti of Italy, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (3), in two hours and 53 minutes. Griekspoor won on his second match point in a decisive tie-break, hitting his 45th winner.

The 27-year-old Griekspoor, who finished with 19 aces and outpointed Musetti 113-112, is making his seventh appearance at Rotterdam, where he earned his first four Top 20 wins. Last year, he became the first Dutch semifinalist since 2014. Next, he faces either No. 4 seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland or No. 32 Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic, who play Tuesday.

World No. 28 Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada withstood three set points during a drama-filled second-set tie-break to beat 170th-ranked American qualifier Maxime Cressy, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (8), in two hours and 20 minutes. Total points were even at 85 in the last match of the day, which finished after 1 a.m. local time.

The 2022 champion Auger-Aliassime struck 18 aces in his victory, which advanced him to face the winner of Tuesday’s match between No. 2 seed Andrey Rublev of Russia and 132nd-ranked Belgian qualifier Zizou Bergs.

No. 3 seeds Nathaniel Lammons and Jason Withrow of the United States advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-7 (5), 10-6 win over Albano Olivetti of France and Michael Venus of New Zealand. However, No. 2 seeds Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz of Germany were upset by Dutch wild cards Robin Haase and Botic van de Zandschulp, 7-6 (7), 6-7 (5), 10-5.

Monday’s ABN AMRO Open results

Tuesday’s ABN AMRO Open order of play

By the numbers

Dutch No. 1 Tallon Griekspoor is 12-1 on home soil since the start of last season, highlighted by winning his second ATP Tour title at ‘s-Hertogenbosch and earning a pair of Davis Cup wins to defeat Switzerland two weeks ago.

“Quotable …”