Teenager Sinner stuns 11th seed Goffin on French Open debut

Jannik Sinner, who won last year's NextGen ATP Finals, made a memorable French Open debut as he brushed aside 11th seed David Goffin in the first round.

Jannik Sinner

Jannik Sinner reacts during his match against David Goffin in the French Open first round on Sunday.   -  AP

Italian teenager Jannik Sinner upset 11th seed David Goffin in a breezy 7-5, 6-0, 6-3 victory on his French Open debut on Sunday to confirm his status as one of the most exciting talents in men's tennis.

The 19-year-old, who won last year's NextGen ATP Finals title, had won his only previous meeting against Goffin in straight sets in the second round at Rotterdam this year.

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But Goffin, who reached the quarterfinal at Roland Garros in 2016, would have fancied his chances against the 74th-ranked Sinner who, before Sunday, had only one Grand Slam win under his belt - at this year's Australian Open.

Playing his first match on the main showcourt at Roland Garros and the opener in this year's tournament, Sinner showed he belonged on this stage.

“The first set was very tight, it was like the key to manage to win the service games quite easily,” Sinner told reporters.

 

“In the beginning, that was not easy. He was returning well. I was not serving that well. But the balls here are very heavy. The court was heavy. It was not easy.

“But at the end, when you win the first set and go up a break, it's a little bit easier to play,” he added.

The Italian traded a double break of serve with his Belgian opponent at the initial stages of the match before getting the crucial third break to take the opening set.

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It was all Sinner after that as his sizzling forehand started generating more power and Goffin struggled to stay in the rallies under the closed roof of court Philippe Chatrier as the Italian won 11 straight games to close in on victory.

“You never expect that,” Sinner said about winning 11 straight games. “I don't think there was like one key. He maybe didn't feel that well on court. I felt well. I have just been trying to be focused,” he added.

Sinner converted his second match point when his opponent sent a forehand wide and followed it with a subdued celebration, showing the same calm and composure he displayed during the two hours on court.

Goffin hit one winner more that Sinner but the 16 additional unforced errors by the Belgian made the difference.

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“I knew it was going to be a difficult match. I know how he's playing,” said Goffin, adding that he has struggled to motivate himself amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“But even if he played well today, it was not a good match, of course, on my side.

“The most difficult for me, is to be fresh mentally on the court and to save energy to give everything on the court. It's just that I was a little bit empty, no energy today,” he added.

Sinner will next meet French qualifier Benjamin Bonzi who defeated Finland's Emil Ruusuvuori 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

- Nishikori battles past Evans -

Japan's Kei Nishikori, who missed the American hard-court swing after contracting COVID-19 last month, edged past Britain's 32nd seed Dan Evans 1-6, 6-1, 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-4 in a gruelling battle lasting almost four hours.

Evans, the 32nd seed, looked on course for his first ever French Open win as he romped through the opening set but Nishikori polished off the second set in equally quick time.

Nishikori led 5-2 in the third set only to be dragged into a tiebreaker, which he won, but again lapsed as Evans hit back to take the match into a deciding set.

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A topsy-turvy match saw three-times French Open quarterfinalist Nishikori seize control to lead 3-0 but again Evans reeled off the next three games and had a break point in the seventh that he could not convert.

That proved crucial as Nishikori produced a couple of stunning points to break the Evans serve at 4-5 and seal the victory, only his second of the year.

The world number 35, who has now won 24 of his 30 five-set matches in Grand Slam tournaments, will take on Italy's Stefano Travaglia in the second round.

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