David Goffin struggled at the end of 2020, losing his final five matches of the season, including his last 12 sets of the year. But the Belgian is off to a hot start in 2021, and that continued on Tuesday at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open.
The sixth seed beat Serbian Filip Krajinovic 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 22 minutes to reach the second round in Doha. He will play American Taylor Fritz for a spot in the quarter-finals.
“I’m feeling great. I’m taking a lot of pleasure on the court. I’m feeling more relaxed, confident in my choices, [confident] with my serve. It’s a huge difference,” Goffin said. “I’m serving well, returning well, I’m solid. I’m feeling sharp for the moment. It’s great.”
At his best, Goffin has been one of the toughest baseliners on the ATP Tour. After winning his first title since 2017 last month in Montpellier, the Belgian’s confidence has soared.
“[It helps] a lot, because instead of going on the side on my groundstrokes, I just cut the angles,” Goffin said. “I’m more confident to cut the trajectory and go more for the line maybe, so I’m more aggressive. I think my opponents, they feel it. They feel more pressure. They feel that I’m more into the court in front of my baseline.”
Goffin hit eight aces and did not face a break point against Krajinovic, who beat the Belgian twice on hard courts in 2019. The sixth seed now leads their ATP Head2Head series 3-2.
“It was a really good match because Filip was playing well. I think he was feeling the ball well from the start. It was not easy. Then I had the first break, so it changed a lot [in] the match,” Goffin said. “I’m happy the way I’m feeling, moving, and playing on the court now.”
The top seed on Goffin’s half of the draw is Roger Federer. They cannot meet in a match until the semi-finals, but the friends already reunited on the practice courts in Doha.
World No. 14 Goffin will next play Fritz, whom he beat in three sets in their only previous meeting at the 2019 Western & Southern Open. Fritz defeated Lorenzo Sonego 7-6(5), 6-4 in the first round.