• French Open, Day Three

Goffin drains Djokovic but can't defeat him

ESPN staff
May 28, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »


Novak Djokovic was given the sort of opening round examination he was perhaps hoping to avoid on Tuesday, as he was forced to move through the gears to progress in Paris.

Last year's French Open finalist was posed plenty of difficult questions by youngster David Goffin, who was perhaps unlucky not to get the rewards his play deserved as Djokovic edged to a 7-6(5) 6-4 7-5 victory late in the evening.

The 22-year-old did earn a round of applause from his vaunted opponent, however - so impressed was Djokovic by the standard of his play.

Goffin burst onto the scene on this stage last year - powering into the third round before eventually losing at the hands of Roger Federer - and did not look overawed against the world No. 1, matching him shot for shot with some lusty blows in the opening games of the contest.

In the first set neither player gave up a break - although Goffin did have to ride out one mild scare - as matters headed inexorably to a tiebreak. The previous 12 games had given little indication of which player had the upper hand and the tiebreak proved the same, with only two slight mistakes from the young Belgian - the most prominent coming with a missed volley in the very first point of the breaker - allowing Djokovic to take the lead.

The second set saw both players open up, with Djokovic beginning to work out his opponent's tendencies as he claimed the contest's first break. But Goffin, who had appeared a bit flat in the immediate aftermath of his tiebreak defeat, would not be discouraged - breaking Djokovic to love to restore parity in the stanza, something that happens very rarely to the Serbian these days.

That display of tennis only served to ignite Djokovic, however, as he immediately broke back at 4-4 to create the opportunity for the second set. Goffin duly fought back from 40-0 to deuce to make things interesting, but two pinpoint serves out wide would just about put that resistance to bed.

Now facing an uphill battle at two sets adrift, Goffin could have been forgiven for losing interest in the third stanza. The fact he did not was credit to him; Djokovic taking until the 11th game of the set to finally break his opponent as a deep forehand - combined with a Goffin slip - allowed him to convert a second break point.

That left Djokovic to serve for the contest - something he duly did, ending matters with about 30 minutes of light remaining the day; buying himself an extra few hours to rest and recuperate from a match where a lot was demanded of him.

Elsewhere on a rain-affected day in France, 12th seed Tommy Haas eased into the second round - as did Nikolay Davydenko, who dumped out home favourite Florent Serra.

Another notable winner was Victor Hanescu - who was two sets clear against Bernard Tomic before the Australian retired hurt.

Grigor Dimitrov also profited from a retirement - from Alejandro Falla - but 29th seed Mikhail Youzhny was not so lucky, going four sets against Pablo Andujar before completing a 4-6 6-4 6-2 6-3 win.

Alexander Dolgopolov was one seed who failed to progress, however - as he was edged by Dimitry Tursunov, 7-6(7) 6-4 7-6(7).

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