Q&A

Goffin: 'You Can Feel The Energy From A Teammate, A Country'

By Andrew Eichenholz
Updated , First
Published

Q&A

Goffin: 'You Can Feel The Energy From A Teammate, A Country'

By Andrew Eichenholz
Updated , First
Published

David Goffin, the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up, helped Belgium become one of the first 18 teams to qualify for the inaugural ATP Cup in 2020. The No. 1 Belgian has won four ATP Tour titles and reached nine additional finals, climbing as high as No. 7 in the ATP Rankings.

The 28-year-old will hope to lead Belgium to ATP Cup glory next January. Goffin spoke to ATPCup.com about what it means to represent his country, which players from Belgium he idolised growing up and more.

How excited are you for the inaugural ATP Cup?
It’s looking good, a great competition. I love to play for my country. I always play well when I have to play for my country. There are friends on the team, so it’s nice. It’s the first time, the first tournament, so we will see how it is. It will be in Sydney for us, so it will be nice. A great competition, a great atmosphere probably and hopefully I can play some good tennis to start the season.

How special is it that this is the first edition of the event and do you think that’s one of the main reasons players are excited about it?
Yes. I’m very curious to see, that’s why I’m very excited. On paper it looks amazing. A great place, great stadiums, it looks really good. So I’m really excited to see and hopefully it will be a really nice event.

What’s special about representing Belgium?
It’s always special because you’re not playing for yourself. You’re playing for your country, you’re playing for your teammates on the bench, so it gives you a lot of energy to fight on the court. It’s very different. It’s the unique moment during the year that you can feel that energy from a teammate, from the country. So it’s nice, it’s a great feeling and I like it.

Throughout the year, unless you’re playing doubles, you’re not part of a team. So is it a nice change to play with people from your country so you’re not just out there by yourself?
Yeah, of course. I didn’t play doubles with players from my country, so we will see. It will be interesting to see who will be on the team and what we can do. We’re going to fight, we’re going to try to find solutions to win some matches. We will see, we will have some talented players. But, of course, we are not the favourite. We will try to do everything.

Growing up, your father was a tennis coach. Is that what got you into the sport?
Yes, I think so. That’s his passion and he gave me that. He gave me the tennis in my blood. I tried different sports, but as soon as I was on a tennis court there was a smile on my face. That was my favourite sport, so of course that’s because of my dad, probably. But the whole family, we were in tennis, so I followed.

"You’re not playing for yourself. You’re playing for your country."

David Goffin

Team Belgium

What are some of your early memories of playing tennis?
I remember in my hometown, the tennis club. I remember it, and I am still going there sometimes when I have time. I remember I was playing with my brother, staying all day long at the club. I was playing with all the racquets — big racquets, small racquets, different balls. It’s good memories from this club and I think I was five, six, seven, so it was nice. 

Who were the Belgian players you looked up to when you were a kid?
I know most of them. When I started on the professional tournaments, Olivier Rochus was still there, Steve Darcis, Xavier Malisse. Before that it was it was Filip Dewulf, who made the semis of the French Open. That was a good moment. Also, the two girls: Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters. I remember I woke up during the night to see the finals of the Grand Slams they made, so it was quite unbelievable to have those girls for such a small country, to have two World No. 1s, so it was a great period.

What was it like to go from watching those guys to playing with them?
It’s not easy. You’re a little bit nervous all the time because you saw them winning some matches on TV. You practised hard and then all of a sudden you have the level and you start to play with them and they’re happy to play with you. It’s a great atmosphere during the practice, but I was quite nervous. Practice after practice, it was getting better and then now it’s different, but I always had a lot of respect for all of the Belgian players and I think it has been a part of my success, to get to practise with them.

Is there a particular shot from any of them that you wish you could have in your game?
Of course. We had a lot of talented players in Belgium. Steve Darcis has an amazing slice backhand. Olivier Rochus has an amazing feeling in the racquet, his drop shot and slice volleys. He’s super talented. Malisse had the timing in his groundstrokes, amazing. Dewulf had an amazing forehand on the clay, so a lot of nice shots that I could take from them.

What’s special about Belgium as a country?
It’s a small country, but it’s a really nice country to live in. It’s a great atmosphere. Belgians are very friendly and open, so if you go there, you will always have a nice welcome in the country. We have some good food as well. We’re close to France and have similar food. But French fries, I don’t know why we call them French fries because they’re Belgian fries. The waffles, the beers, the chocolate, these are our signature foods. 

Is there something on the road that reminds you of Belgium?
The flags of course when I see the flag. It’s funny, I’m always surprised when I’m travelling around the world and I see sometimes Belgian flags, because it’s so small, such a small country… it’s amazing. But, also, as soon as I see the food like chocolate, I can only compare to it in Belgium where it’s the best.