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David Goffin won his sixth ATP Tour title in Marrakech in April.

Goffin Before Nadal Clash: ‘I Wondered If I Would Ever Be The Same Again’

Former World No. 7 suffered a knee injury last season

The road back from injury in professional sport can be a long, tiring and frustrating journey. Just ask former World No. 7 David Goffin.

The past 12 months have been the toughest the Belgian has faced since he made his ATP Tour debut in 2011 after he was forced to end his 2021 season in August due to a knee injury.

Last month Goffin returned to the winners’ circle in Marrakech, capturing his sixth tour-level title at the ATP 250 clay-court event. It was a major moment for the 31-year-old, who had doubted his future just weeks earlier.

“Winning Marrakech meant a lot. I have had tough moments for the past year,” Goffin told ATPTour.com. “First with my knee. I had to end my season in August and then the beginning of this year I was struggling with my game. My knee troubled me in Sydney, I had to pull out of my match against [Andy] Murray. There were a lot of things in my head. ‘Would my knee ever be the same? Is it affecting my footwork? Am I slower?' I wondered if I would ever be the same again.

“Every day you have different feelings in your head. One day you have a great session and you are feeling good and then the next day you feel tired and are not feeling the ball well. You think you are slow. One day you panic and then you feel strong and feel you will be back soon. It takes time and you have to trust the process and that was the hardest part. You have to believe in your team.”

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When Goffin, who was out from August 2021 - January 2022, arrived in Marrakech at the start of April, he was No. 74 in the ATP Rankings. It was his lowest position since he was World No. 78 in July 2014.

Since defeating Slovakian Alex Molcan in the final, the Belgian has continued to flourish. He advanced to the third round at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and has come through qualifying at the Mutua Madrid Open this week, with World No. 4 Rafael Nadal awaiting in the third round.

Goffin has felt his upturn in form coming since he left Australia in January.

“After Sydney I began to feel more confident in practice and at the gym sessions and I was like ‘OK, I am feeling great’,” Goffin said. “Then I started to play some good tennis and the confidence came back, match after match.

“Then the clay arrived and every year when the clay swing arrives, it is always a good and important period for me. In Marrakech, I won one battle and then another and then the confidence grows. Winning a title meant a lot after that tough period.”

The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals finalist revealed that a crucial factor behind his strong results has been regaining trust in his body, which had been wiped away in 2021.

“When I was playing in Australia, I didn’t dare go on my knee,” Goffin revealed. “Then your groundstrokes are not the same and you worry if it is you or the knee. Then when you commit more the groundstrokes are better, you move better and then you are like ‘Yes, it was my knee’. Then you get confidence that you are not done, and it will get better.”

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While his time away from competitive action was frustrating, Goffin enjoyed a life-changing moment that understandably helped boost his spirits.

“I had time to get married,” Goffin said, beaming with a smile. “I had a honeymoon and time to travel a little bit. It was good to have time to do things you may not normally have time for. Mentally the pause was good for my head.”

Throughout his career, Goffin has produced some of his best tennis on clay, advancing to the semi-finals in Monte Carlo in 2016 and the last eight at ATP Masters 1000 events in Madrid in 2017 and in Rome in 2015, 2016 and 2018.

It is a period of the season the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals finalist relishes as he reflects on the different tournament stops on the ATP Tour.

“Marrakech was the first time I played and I won, so it will be a good tournament for the rest of my career,” Goffin said. “Monaco is where I live, so it is really nice to play matches there. The centre court in Monte Carlo with the sea behind is one of the most beautiful courts.

“Madrid is quite special. It is the first time I have played qualifying in about 10 years I think. It is different because of the altitude and the courts are really fast. It can also be completely indoor on three courts when it is raining, so it is a little bit different. “

With confidence restored and Goffin back inside the Top 60, he is looking to put his injury woes firmly in the back mirror and drive on to more success in the upcoming period.

“When I started the season I wanted to be ready for the clay and grass. It is the best period for me,” Goffin said. “From April to July that was the main goal to be ready and I am. I am feeling fit and have won matches. I will now try and stay fit. It is good I have had a lot of matches and the confidence is growing.”

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