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Sports

Goffin crushes Pouille to give Belgium lead over France in Davis Cup final

media David Goffin beat Lucas Pouille for the first time in four matches to claim the first point in the 2017 Davis Cup final. Reuters/Yves Herman

David Goffin drew first blood in the Davis Cup final with a straight sets demolition of Lucas Pouille. The Belgian number one claimed the initial point in the best of five series 7-5 6-3 6-1 in two hours.

It was 26-year-old Goffin’s first win over Pouille in four meetings.

“I’m super happy with the performance," said Goffin. " To finish it in straight sets ... it was a good match from the start.”

Goffin entered the tie on the back of some dazzling play at the ATP Finals in London where he reached the final. On his way to the showdown against Grigor Dimitrov, he became only the sixth man to beat both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the same tournament.

The French supporters watching his journey at the O2 Arena may have hoped he would show fatigue from his exertions in south-east London.

But as the first set advanced towards the tiebreak, it was 23-year-old Pouille who cracked. Goffin served out gratefully to claim the opener after 47 minutes.

The Belgian wasn’t for waffling in the second. He broke Pouille’s first service game and snatched it again to take a two set lead after 88 minutes.

Pouille showed occasional signs of his muscular talent but it was Goffin's delicately flicked backhand drop shot that brought up two break points and a lavish back hand down the line that left Pouille rooted. The combination of points took Goffin to 5-1. Goffin dispatched his 12th ace en route to closing the set 6-1.

“I served really well,” said Goffin. “I didn’t face a break point. And that’s something that does not happen to me very often in a best of five set match.  I was really aggressive. It was a really good match to start the final.”

Goffin, who rose to a career high of number seven after his exploits in London, admitted he had brought his good form from London into the final. “I arrived with a lot of confidence after playing some good matches in London. I quickly got a feel for the balls and the court here. I got the feeling that I could express myself on the court in the way I wanted.”

Pouille was munificent in defeat. “He’s playing the best tennis of his life at the moment. He played a perfect match. He barely missed a shot. He was very good in all aspects of the game.”

The French number two added: “I often train with David but I have rarely seen this level of play. I was serving at 220kmh and the returns were coming back centimetres in front of the baseline.

“I played a first set of good quality and I was with him and then he got away.”

 

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