David Goffin captured his first ATP Tour title in more than three years on Sunday, when rallied from a set down to defeat Roberto Bautista Agut 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier.
The second seed landed 13 aces and broke serve on four occasions to clinch the title after two hours and five minutes. This is Goffin’s first ATP Tour crown since his title run at the 2017 Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo.
“It’s never easy to win tournaments. This is my fifth and every tournament that I’ve won was very special,” said Goffin, in an on-court interview. “I had some opportunities, I’ve had matches [where] I had zero chance to win in the final. Sometimes you take it, sometimes not. I’ve played some finals, but you need to continue, you need to improve your game, you need to fight and I’m happy that it paid off at the end.”
With his fourth straight win against Bautista Agut, Goffin extended his ATP Head2Head series advantage against the Spaniard to 4-2. Goffin entered the ATP 250 on a three-match losing streak, but he rediscovered his best level on the southern French coast and survived three deciding sets en route to the trophy.
Goffin is only the third non-French player to lift the singles trophy in Montpellier. The five-time ATP Tour titlist joins 2012 champion Tomas Berdych and 2017 titlist Alexander Zverev in the exclusive club. Eight of the previous 10 editions of the ATP 250 singles event were won by French players.
Bautista Agut dictated rallies with his forehand and rushed Goffin into errors to take the first set in 49 minutes, but the Belgian responded immediately and turned the match in his favour. Goffin moved up the court well and fired consecutive backhand winners up the line to earn a love service break at the start of the second set. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up maintained his advantage with strong serving and forced a decider with a love service hold.
Goffin carried the momentum into the third set and he capitalised on forehand errors from his opponent to break serve. The 30-year-old continued to drive his backhand up the line and closed the net well to double his advantage. Goffin converted his first championship point when Bautista Agut failed to control a powerful backhand down the line.
“A final is always different. You have to just go for it,” said Goffin. “You’ve already [had] a good week and you’re playing the final. It’s the last match of the week, so you have to give everything to try to win the trophy. Otherwise, it’s tough to win a tournament. I did it, I raised my level and I’m really happy at the end because it was a tough moment. [I had] tough weeks last season and I’m happy that I’m back with a level like this.”
Bautista Agut was attempting to capture his 10th tour-level trophy. The 32-year-old, who owns a 9-8 record in ATP Tour championship matches, did not drop a set en route to the final.
“He played really well the whole week and I always know against Roberto that he’s a very tough opponent,” said Goffin. “[He’s] one of the biggest fighters and one of the best players in the world, so it’s always tough. Especially in the final, I had to play my best tennis and I think it was the case… I started to play well from the start of the second [set] and I had to give everything. That was my only chance today.”