Goffin recalls 'idol' duel in Paris

Imagine facing your idol on debut at Roland-Garros – that's exactly what happened to the Belgian in 2012

Roger Federer, David Goffin, Roland Garros 2012, fourth round© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT
 - Alex Sharp

A decade is a long time, especially in the Grand Slam world.

David Goffin was in a reflective mood on Thursday having returned to the Roland-Garros third round 10 years on from his first appearance in Paris.

How about this for a debut? Goffin advanced to the last 16 back in 2012 off the back of defeating Radek Stepanek, Arnaud Clement and Lukas Kubot.

Then came a fourth round match-up against a certain Roger Federer, who Goffin still had a poster of on his bedroom wall at the time.

"It's 10 years' difference, but completely different, different body, I would say first, because if you see the images, I'm not the same guy," quipped the Belgian who took the first set before the Swiss maestro prevailed 5-7, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4.

"So many tournaments, so many experiences between 2012 and 2022 in 10 years.

"It was just a match that I didn't know what I was doing, just hitting the ball against Roger, my idol.

"Now, I have more maturity, more experience. I know exactly what I'm doing. I control what I'm doing more, even more now when I'm 31 years old and back from injury, back from a tough period. It's even more nice now to enjoy every win."

Last month Goffin lifted his sixth career title in Marrakech to highlight his return to form following a couple of injury-maligned seasons.

David Goffin, Roland Garros 2022, second round© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

"Being in the third round, it's not a surprise, I would say, if you see the last few weeks and months, but inside it is a small surprise. But I knew that I was able to do it again and it was a goal to go back to my best tennis. That's almost the case for the moment. So I'm very happy," he said.

Goffin spoke warmly of his next opponent, world No.13 Hubert Hurkacz, a straight-sets winner over 2018 semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato.

"Hubi is such a nice guy, we practise together in Monaco. We played a really good match in Rome. It was a very hard match. It was hot, long. Physically it was not easy. It was a really, really tough battle, close match," added Goffin, who was a 7-6(8), 7-6(2) victor that day.

"He's really talented. He's moving well for a big guy. He can slide on the clay, serving bombs, has a really huge kick and forehand after that. He's improving every year. He was in the top 10 last year.

"It's not an easy match, but we have a chance, for sure, because I won the last match in Rome. But here it's in a Grand Slam, and it's a different match, different atmosphere, different conditions, different balls."