LONDON (Reuters) – Beaten but exhilarated, Belgium’s David Goffin believes his exceptional run at the ATP Finals has strengthened him for the last great challenge of his breakthrough season — helping his country win the Davis Cup for the first time.
After his three-set defeat by Grigor Dimitrov in Sunday’s final of the prestigious season-ending tournament, Goffin had no time for regrets as he looked forward to the decider in the men’s global team championship against France in Lille.
The hosts are favorites but Goffin, who will grab the chance to recharge batteries run down by his heroics at the O2 Arena, will on current form be the best player on show at the three-day final, which begins on Friday.
He also reckons he has been transformed into a harder, better performer by the exertions of his remarkable week in London, during which he became only the sixth man to beat Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the same event.
“It was a special week for me, with a lot of emotions, a lot of fatigue of course. Now I’m feeling tired, but I’ll be ready for the final,” said the 26-year-old, who moved up to a career-high seventh in the world rankings on Monday.
“It’s such an honor to represent my country. To be another time in the final of the Davis Cup is really something special. I will try to give my best, as I did this week.”
He believes he has moved on since performing admirably when an Andy Murray-inspired Britain won the Cup in 2015, the second time the Belgians had lost a final.
“I think after this week I’m a better player mentally but also physically,” said Goffin, who was eventually bested on Sunday by Bulgarian Dimitrov after a draining two-and-a-half hour duel.
“The way I managed the pressure will help me to also manage the pressure there (in Lille) but it will be something different. It will be against the stadium,” said Goffin.
“…The fatigue doesn’t mean anything. I just have to go for every match, every moment of the court, enjoy that moment.”
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Lucas Pouille lead the French team along with Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert, while Goffin’s team mates are Steve Darcis, Ruben Bemelmans and Arthur De Greef.
Federer, for one, believes France’s strength in depth makes them favorites and he says Goffin must win both his singles rubbers to give Belgium a chance.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband; editing by John Stonestreet)