World No.11 David Goffin is set to make his Laver Cup debut in Chicago this week, representing Team Europe. As he has proven so far in his career, the 27-year-old is a force to be reckoned with. Here’s why.
David Goffin thrives in team competition, producing some of his career-best results in high-pressure Davis Cup matches. Since his Davis Cup debut in 2012, Goffin has built a 23-3 win-loss record in singles matches. Victorious in his past 11 matches, Goffin led Belgium to finals appearances in 2015 and 2017. He has also represented his nation at the Olympic Games.
If Goffin’s Davis Cup exploits were not enough to make him a national hero, he has also created history as the first Belgian male to achieve a top-10 ranking. He hopes his performances, which include setting a career-high ranking of No.7 in 2017, inspire young Belgian players, just as they have by the feats of compatriots Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin. “If I can bring some happiness and some tennis in the heart of kids, it’s nice,” he says.
Goffin, who grew up with posters of idol Roger Federer on his bedroom wall, started playing tennis when he was six. His first coach was his father Michel, who is based in Liege. Goffin’s brother, Simon, is a tennis coach too, and has worked with WTA players Andrea Petkovic, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and most recently, Alize Cornet.
Goffin made history at the 2017 ATP finals, becoming the first Belgian to qualify for the prestigious year-ending championships. He then defeated Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in a sensational run to the biggest final of his career, becoming only the sixth player in history to defeat both at the same tournament. His performances in London also made him the first Belgian man to defeat a No.1-ranked player, and the first player in over two years to defeat both the world No.1 and No.2 ranked players in a tournament.
Goffin made his Grand Slam main draw debut as a lucky loser at Roland Garros 2012. Making the most of the opportunity, the then 21-year-old upset No.23-seed Radek Stepanek in the first round and Australian Open 2001 finalist Arnaud Clement in the second round. It took childhood idol Federer to end his winning run in a four-set fourth round battle. That run propelled Goffin’s ranking into the world’s top 100 for the first time.
Luck has not always been on Goffin’s side. He injured his right ankle after tripping over a tarpaulin at Roland Garros in 2017, which sidelined him for six weeks. He also suffered a freak eye injury earlier this season, missing four weeks after a ball bounced off his racket and into his eye.
Goffin has proved his resilience in returning from injury setbacks. He broke his left wrist in a fall during a practice session and underwent surgery in September 2013. His ranking had fallen outside the top 100 when he returned in early 2014, but after winning his first two ATP titles he finished the season at No.22. His peers voted him ATP Comeback Player of the Year.
Goffin shares close friendships with many of his peers, including Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Lucas Pouille, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Dominic Thiem. “It’s nice to have some friends on the tour, I think it is really important,” Goffin says.
One of the shortest members of the world’s top 20 – standing at 180 centimeters (5’11”) – Goffin refuses to let his height hinder his game. “I have different weapons than the big guys,” he says. “I knew when I was young I had a smaller body and I had to work on my best weapons, because I knew that I won’t have big groundstrokes like tall guys. So I had to work on my footwork, on how I take the ball early on my return, which is my best weapon I think. I have a good return.”
The late-blooming Goffin is a two-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, advancing to the final eight at Roland Garros 2016 and Australian Open 2017. His improvement in recent years is evident in his record against top 10-ranked opponents.
Now ranked No.11 in the world, Goffin is excited to be making his Laver Cup debut. “It’s so exciting to play in this incredible tournament and to be on the same team as champions like Roger and Novak,” he said. “It will be a privilege to fight with both of them, along with Grigor and Sascha, to defend the title for Team Europe. I can’t wait,” Goffin said.