Full Recovery Already In Sight For Goffin

It wasn’t so long ago that David Goffin’s immediate outlook was, well, blurry.

In February, the 27-year-old was trailing 3-6, 0-1 in his semi-final match against Grigor Dimitrov at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament when he framed an attempted volley directly into his left eye. That led to the premature end to the match and required an immediate trip to the hospital.

The eye injury wasn’t deemed serious, but it was still bad enough that the Belgian was forced to withdraw from events in Marseille and Indian Wells. It also required the use of a special contact lens in the damaged left eye while competing.

Goffin admits his eyesight isn’t completely clear. After his Round of 16 win over Roberto Bautista Agut in Monte-Carlo on Thursday, however, two things became very clear: Goffin is back in form, and while his vision might be slightly impaired, his spirit is operating at full strength.

Goffin battled his way into the quarter-finals by defeating the No. 11 seed Bautista Agut, 6-4, 7-5, in a gut-checking one-hour and 42-minute match on Court Des Princes. Goffin forged his way to a 5-1 lead in the second set, only to see Bautista Agut storm back to level the match at 5-5. Even with his endurance being tested and nerves checked, the Belgian found a way to seal the victory two games later.

Afterward, Goffin credited the win – his second since a 6-0, 6-1 loss to Joao Sousa in his return at the Miami Open presented by Itau – to solid preparation for clay-court play.

“When I came back from Miami, I trained to prepare for the clay-court season,” Goffin said. “I played more tennis, so I had very good preparation for clay.”

Even more encouraging for Goffin, he’s able to concentrate on his tennis – and not his eye – while playing.

“I’m not thinking about it any more,” Goffin said. “If I feel something is bothering me, I’ll think about it all the time and I will never be able to focus on tennis. But now I’ve gotten used to the lens, and I’m not thinking about it any more.

“I’m doing exercises every day to try to get both eyes at the same level again; I’m working to get the same vision that I had previously. I had many tests performed, and now the lens I have is very good; I’m able to forget about it. That was the goal.”

With the eye issue now downgraded to a minor hindrance, Goffin can focus fully on the next task at hand: a quarter-final showdown against good friend Dimitrov. The fourth-seeded Bulgarian defeated Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to book his place in the last eight in Monte-Carlo.

The pair are no strangers to one another’s game: Goffin and Dimitrov are also through to the last eight as a doubles team after defeating eighth seeds Ivan Dodig and Rajeev Ram 5-7, 7-6(4), 10-8 on Wednesday. They’ve also met seven times before, with Dimitrov leading Goffin 6-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

Goffin realises the uphill battle he’s facing if he’s to make a return trip to the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo and expects a spirited showdown.

“With Grigor, we’ve played each other often lately and have practised together, especially on clay,” Goffin said. “We know each other well; he’s always a very tough opponent. He’s very physical. He moves around very well on the court. It’s very difficult for me to outrun him. On clay, I haven’t played him yet, I think. It will be a first.

“Any match, a quarter-final, whatever happens, we will have to play doubles together, and there will be no problem.”

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