Goffin Keeps His Nerve, Now For Dimitrov
David Goffin was made to work hard on Thursday to beat Roberto Bautista Agut at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters for a place in the quarter-finals for the second consecutive year.
The sixth-seeded Belgian found a way to beat fellow baseliner, No. 11 seed Bautista Agut, 6-4, 7-5 in one hour and 42 minutes on Court Des Princes, the second show court at the Monte-Carlo Country Club.
“In the second set there were big points that hurt me physically, but I was able to win them,” said Goffin. “He always fights until the last point. He gives away no points. You have to fight for each point. At 5-5, I was able to turn it up a notch for me to win the match. I was extremely pleased I was able to have a good reaction at 5-5 in the second set. I’m happy with my game overall.
Goffin, who is playing this week with a special contact lens in his left eye — following a freak accident on court in February — will now prepare to face fourth seed and Monte-Carlo resident Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, who beat Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Dimitrov leads Goffin 6-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.
When asked about the lens in his left eye, Goffin confirmed, “I wear it all the time. Every time I go on the court for practice or for matches, I use it… I don’t wear it [outside of the court] because it doesn’t bother me then. It’s better for me not to wear it all the time because my eye needs to get used to being back to normal. But when I play, this lens helps me.
“The prognosis is good. 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.”
Last year’s semi-finalist Goffin had taken a 3-0 lead in the second set, but later saw his 5-1 advantage evaporate as Bautista Agut kept the ball low and drew Goffin to the net to get back to 5-5. Goffin failed to convert two match points at 5-3, 40/15 in a nervy end to their fourth FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting (2-2).
Bautista Agut looked in the ascendency when he won four games in a row, but at 5-5, 30/30, the Spaniard went for broke on a forehand crosscourt that flashed across Goffin at the net. The line judge called it in, but the chair umpire left her chair and soon judged it had missed the line. Goffin broke and in the next game, at 40/30, hit a forehand approach which Bautista Agut couldn’t cleanly retrieve.
Goffin has a 9-4 match record this year – including semi-final runs at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier (l. to Gasquet) and the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam (l. to Dimitrov), where his eye injury occurred.
Dimitrov claimed a spot in his third Monte-Carlo quarter-final (also 2013, 2015), but will be mightily relieved to have found a way to beat Kohlschreiber, who led by a set and break. Clever service placement and changes of speed, enabled Kohlschreiber to break twice in the 43-minute opening set and again in the third game of the second set.
But the reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion found a way to battle through, setting a rematch of last year’s championship final at The O2 in London against Goffin.