Mahut Adds to Grass Haul With Title at Topshelf Open
Qualifier makes it two in 's-Hertogenbosch.
The match promised to be an interesting contrast in styles, with the 6’3” Frenchman adept at rushing the net and the 5’11” Goffin one of the best in the world at passing on the run.
Typical for a match this week on the Dutch grass courts, the first set ended without a break of serve. But for a while it looked as if the French qualifier was in trouble.
Mahut defended only two of nine second serve points in the set and faced a 0/40 deficit on his serve at 4-4. However, a costly forehand miss by Goffin and several timely net rushes from Mahut negated the Belgian’s advantage. Both men took care of their subsequent service games to reach 6-all.
Early in the tie-break, Mahut showed variety on the backhand wing, alternating one-handed drives and slices before cracking a winner cross-court on the rally’s 35th shot. The highlight reel play staggered Goffin. The second seed would end up dropping the tie-break 7-1.
There was no letdown from Mahut in the opening games of the second set. Despite spending many more hours on court than his opponent, having made the final in the doubles draw (l. to Karlovic/Kubot), Mahut drew first blood and broke Goffin for a 2-1 second-set lead off the Belgian’s baseline error.
"Yesterday I was feeling really tired, but my physio did a great job to get me ready for today's match," offered Mahut. "It was a very tense first set, but after one-all [Goffin] was missing some shots and I felt more and more confident [in the second set]."
Going a set and a break down lit a fire under Goffin, who began playing more offensively in an attempt to make up for lost ground. But Mahut held strong, and managed to extend his lead with another break to take a commanding advantage in the match.
"It was really tough to lose the first set," admitted the Belgian, who confessed to not feeling one-hundred percent on the court. "I had trouble with my neck today, so it was tough to serve and to return the ball when the pace was fast."
Mahut closed out the encounter with a winning volley to recapture a trophy he first lifted two years ago. It was his third career ATP World Tour title since turning pro in 2000, all of them on grass (2013 ‘s-Hertogenbosch, 2013 Newport).
"I think I played better here this year than two years ago," remarked Mahut. "From the first round I was hitting the ball really well."
Currently ranked No. 97 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, the 33 year-old fast-court specialist, who reached a career-high of No. 37 last spring, looks to be in good stead for the remainder of the grass season.