Sweet Revenge: Goffin Rallies Past Molcan For Marrakech Title

Belgian defeats Molcan in three sets for the trophy

Revenge tasted sweet for David Goffin on Sunday.

In the first week of the season, Alex Molcan defeated the Belgian in straight sets. But in their second clash, Goffin rallied from a set and a break down to triumph 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 and lift the Grand Prix Hassan II title.

“I’m very happy, proud of my week. It was not easy, a lot of tough matches,” Goffin said. “But at the end, I have my sixth title, here in Marrakech. It gives me a lot of happiness and confidence for the season on the clay.”

Molcan was in control of the championship match, serving at 6-3, 2-1, 40/15 in his second ATP Tour final. But the Slovakian lefty was unable to hold that service game, and that was the only opening the former World No. 7 needed. Goffin emerged victorious in Marrakech after one hour and 58 minutes to claim his sixth tour-level trophy.

“It was the case twice before that match that I lost the first set and I always stayed calm the whole week to turn it around. It was the case again today, because he was playing well. He was better than me in the first set, and then I managed to play better and better, serving better, being more aggressive in the middle of the second,” Goffin said. “I was the better player [after that]. I was playing even better in the third set, so I’m really happy the way I finished with another break [and] a good match point. I didn’t want to serve for the match, I preferred to finish with a break."

The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up ended his 2021 season early due to a left knee injury and struggled to start this year, earning a 6-9 record before arriving in Morocco. But the 31-year-old battled through three three-setters en route to his first tour-level crown since Montpellier last February.

For a while, it seemed Goffin faced a steep climb against Molcan. The Belgian, who at his best is very consistent from the baseline and uses his movement to put pressure on opponents, was misfiring. Molcan took full advantage and moved to within four service holds of earning his maiden triumph at this level.

But the Slovakian missed a forehand drop shot to relinquish his break advantage in the second set and then missed another backhand drop shot in his next service game to allow his veteran opponent to go up a break.

Goffin found his game from there and broke early in the decider as Molcan’s backhand began to falter. The Marrakech crowd got behind the Belgian with chants of “David! David!”

Goffin stayed calm in the tense moments, saving break point at 4-3 in the final set when Molcan missed a backhand into the net. He avoided facing another break point by hitting a forehand winner on the line, and held on from there for the title.

What fans might not know is that Goffin warmed up for the match with former World No. 22 Hicham Arazi, a lefty who is the Grand Prix Hassan II Tournament Director.

“This morning it was really nice,” Goffin said. “We were chatting a little bit with each other and we were talking about when he came in Davis Cup when he was playing for Morocco against Belgium… he was an amazing, talented player when I was young, so it was nice.”

Molcan made an impressive run in Marrakech, where he earned three-set victories against top seed Felix Auger-Aliassime and sixth seed Botic van de Zandchulp before eliminating eighth seed Laslo Djere in straight set in the semi-finals. He was quick to thank the crowd during the trophy ceremony for supporting him throughout the week.

“I’m really grateful for it. You helped me to win many matches this week, so thanks again,” Molcan said. “Hopefully I will come here next year and you will cheer for me as well.”

He added: "It was an amazing week for me. I won a lot of matches and enjoyed it very much. I want to thank my coach Karol Beck. We’ve been working together for four months now and he has been very helpful."

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