David Goffin takes out Dominic Thiem to Win Bet-at-home title


Photo courtesy of www.treizecizero.ro

The first ATP Tour final for both David Goffin and Dominic Thiem, and the first between them, took place at the ATP 250 Kitzbuhel Bet-at-home Cup. David Goffin won a hard-fought for match 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 between two young and hungry players. The tennis review looks back at what could prove to a very tasty appetizer of things to come.

Thiem got off to the perfect start, breaking Goffin in the opening game, but Goffin brushed off the early disappointment and held serve for 1-2 with some attacking tennis, his confidence not dented at all by his slow start.

A Thiem double fault serving at 3-2 gave Goffin a break point, however it was short-lived as Thiem struck down his fifth ace. Another double fault and another Goffin break point, this one saved with a serve out wide and a forehand winner off the short ball. Thiem’s single-handed backhand then came into play, forcing an error when struck down the line to earn a game point. Thiem won it with a service winner to lead 4-2.

Both men held their serves, pushing each other all the way as they forced each other to cover every inch of the court and display not just their baseline skills but their net ones, too. At 5-3, Thiem returning, the Austrian held two break points.  Goffin saved the first as his defense proved too good for Thiem who went for too much on a forehand down the line and hit the net. On the second point, Goffin’s depth and weight of shot were too strong, pushing Thiem back and forcing him into error. Break points saved, Goffin went on to hold serve and it was all on Thiem’s shoulders to serve out for the set.

Thiem showed no signs of pressure at all and held to love, striking the ball with authority from the back of the court and pounding down service winners  to take the first set 6-4.

A backhand passing shot down the line on the run winner from Thiem at the start of the second set was an ominous indicator for Goffin of how confident the 20 year Austrian was feeling leading by a set in his first final in front of his home crowd. Three games later, at 1-1, after bossing Goffin around in his previous service game, Thiem earned himself two break points as Goffin missed a forehand down the line.

Goffin played his best tennis to save the first one. The Belgian hit his second serve out wide, stepped inside the court and hit an approach shot down the line and then slid into the backhand volley and put it away for a winner. On the second break point, Goffin hit a serve deep to Thiem’s backhand and reaped the rewards as Thiem netted the return. Goffin then displayed more of his fine touch as he served hard down the tee and then moved forward to hit a drop shot winner of the sliced return. Thiem could only stand at the back of the court and watch.


Photo courtesy of diepresse.com

Goffin went on to take the game, a 2-1 lead, and with it, the momentum.  Though Thiem looked like he had shrugged of the disappointment of not taking his break point chances as he began his following service game with a resounding ace,  he did not look convincing for long.  Bothered by Goffin’s weight of shot, Thiem could not get into any rallies, the errors built up and he went break point down. He hit a serve right into Goffin’s strike zone on his backhand, Goffin leaped into the shot and struck it back with venom and Thiem, his rhythm gone, sent the return flying wide, and Goffin led 3-1.

Thiem rallied in the next game, but the Goffin serve was too good, and the Thiem game too patchy, and Goffin led 4-1. The Belgian’s return game proved to be too good, too, as he pushed Thiem to deuce and then used his defensive skills and penetrating goundstokes to break Theim and earn himself the chance to serve out for the set before an almost silent crowd whose clapping before the next game was to encourage Thiem and not to acknowledge Goffin’s fine play.

Goffin was oblivious, though. A service winner, a forehand winner struck from mid-court, a forehand down the line that forced a Thiem error and a service winner and he had the set 6-1.

Goffin was now as in control of the match as the crowd were of their applause for him. He raced to a 0-40  lead in Thiem’s opening service game of the third set, a sublime lob, his tenth point in a row, earning him the three break points. Thiem stopped the rut with an ace out wide and then found some range and pace on his ground-strokes to level the game at deuce. But he could not sustain it. Nor could he find his first serve. He errored on the forehand to go break point down again, and then the Goffin return was too heavy and deep for him to handle and he was 0-1 down.

Goffin meanwhile was having no problems with his serve, flattening it out and finding the lines to produce short returns he could pounce on and end the point, and the Belgian held serve to lead 2-0.

With a run of 8 games against him, Thiem looked to be on the verge of collapse as he double-faulted in the next game to go 15-30 down. A go for broke Goffin then hit a backhand down the line wide, but another Thiem error and the Belgian was facing break point. Thiem saved it with his best tennis, taking the ball on with aggression and hitting a forehand cross-court winner from mid-court that had the crowd roaring.  Another forehand winner, and the Bet-at-home final match had come alive once more as the rallies grew longer and Thiem, who held serve with an ace, was back in the match.

However, though Thiem was able to stay with Goffin, and push him to deuce in the Belgian’s next service game, winning the best point of the match after chasing down a drop shot and then running down a lob and retrieving it only for Goffin to net a volley, Thiem was not able to get that decisive break back as at 4-3 Goffin’s placement of serve and consistency, finding one first serve after another, was just too good.

Thiem’s serve though was not, and serving at 3-5 to stay in the match, he double-faulted to go down 0-30. Goffin got a look at a second serve, took control of the point, got Thiem off balance and then blasted a forehand winner down the line to earn three championship points. This time Thiem did get his first serve in, out wide to the Goffin backhand, which it sat up for, and Goffin took it on the rise and hit it down the line right into the corner, hitting the lines for a winner past a scurrying Thiem to take his first ATP Tour title.

Goffin clenched his fist and then met Thiem at the net for the handshake, a sight tennis fans should get used to seeing the next coming years. It will certainly be a welcome one if the matches have the variety, competitive nature and flair this one did.

Watch highlights of the match below:

Commentary by Christian Deverille

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Christian Deverille

Christian Deverille is a tennis writer with a diploma in Freelance Sports Writing from the London School of Journalism. He loves all things tennis, most of all the Federer and del Potro forehands.
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