Former Tokyo Champion Goffin Saves 3 MPs, Ousts Carreno Busta

Goffin improves to 2-2 against the Spaniard

David Goffin had his back against the wall on Colosseum at Ariake Tennis Park on Wednesday. The Belgian won the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships the last time he was here, but he found himself down a set and trailing 1/5 in the second-set tie-break against Pablo Carreno Busta, last week’s Chengdu champion.

But Goffin’s determination never wavered, riding the crowd’s support and his own rising level to save three match points in a 1-6, 7-6(8), 6-0 victory after two hours and 18 minutes to reach the second round. It’s his second win in the span of a month against the Spaniard.

“It was a little bit of magic because I was down a set and 1/5 in the tie-break,” Goffin said. “Again, I fought on this centre court and it’s another win. I’ve won a lot of matches here.”

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It wasn’t just the tie-break in which Goffin had to overcome a deficit, though. Carreno Busta broke the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up three times in the second set, and he would seize a 4-2 advantage. But Goffin never let up, giving himself a chance to pounce on his opportunities.

“It was not easy. [It was a] tough first set, he was playing very good and had a lot of confidence going in. He didn’t miss a ball, and it was tough to find a rhythm,” Goffin said. “He’s such a great player, great fighter and he was serving well. He was doing everything well in the first. So I had to just fight, wait a little bit, try to find my timing, my groundstrokes. It came a little bit, I served a little bit better at the end of the second and in the third.”

Even when he fell well behind in the second-set tie-break, the Tokyo crowd never stopped backing its former champion. And that helped keep the Belgian’s spirits up.

“It was a great atmosphere. I’m really happy,” Goffin said. “I’m fighting every time I’m here in Tokyo and I win another match. So I’m very happy, it was amazing to have all the support from the Japanese.”

Goffin will next face #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov, who cruised past fellow 20-year-old Miomir Kecmanovic on Tuesday evening. It will be their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting.

“He’s very talented, amazing groundstrokes from both sides. When he has time, he hits very hard. He’s serving really well, a lefty, unpredictable sometimes,” Shapovalov said. “I have to play very solid, I have to try to be aggressive, make him miss, because he can miss sometimes. But if he’s on the ball and he sees the ball like a football, he can play very well. I will try to fight like I did today, just play a little bit better, serve well, and we will see.”

Did You Know?
Goffin is the lone former champion in the field. In 2017, which was also his last appearance in Tokyo, Goffin lost just one set en route to his only ATP 500 trophy. In 2016, he reached the final but lost against Nick Kyrgios.

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