ATP Paris: David Goffin keeps London dream alive with win over Nicolas Mahut

Eighth seed David Goffin secured his place in the third round of the BNP Paribas Masters with a tough 7-6(5), 6-3 victory over home favorite Nicolas Mahut. This victory keeps Goffin's slim hopes of qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals alive, and he will now face Marin Cilic, another player looking to secure their place in London, in a crucial third round battle. 

The first set was extremely tight as Goffin twice secured a break lead but both times Mahut bounced back, saving one set point as he forced a tiebreak. There were another couple of mini-breaks shared in the tiebreak but Goffin stayed solid to take the opener on his second time of asking. The pattern of shared breaks continued into the start of the second set, with Goffin again unable to hold on to his lead as Mahut battled back from an early break down. Finally, the Belgian broke at the crucial time and was able to consolidate for the first time, coming through a tough match to book his place in the third round. 

Exchange of breaks

Mahut opened the match with  a convincing hold. He continued his good early play into the return, taking a 15-30 lead on Goffin's serve. The Belgian saved a break point with some aggressive play and survived the early danger with a good hold. Mahut showed off his net skills in another quick hold to stay in front at 2-1. 

The Frenchman had opportunities on return again as he fought to 30-30 but a loose backhand gave Goffin game point, which he took with a forehand down the line passing shot. More excellent volleying from Mahut brought him through another impressive hold, with Goffin yet to get a look in on the return. 

Another opportunity for Mahut on return at 30-30 disappeared as he hit a forehand wide and Goffin held on again to stay in touch. Goffin took a lead on the return for the first time as Mahut, surprisingly, missed a volley. Two double faults in a row from the Frenchman then handed Goffin three break points, and a third then gave the Belgian the break in a nightmare service game.  

Goffin at the Shanghai Rolex Masters (Photo by Kevin Lee/Getty Images)
Goffin at the Shanghai Rolex Masters (Photo by Kevin Lee/Getty Images)

Mahut bounced back in the next game to take the break straight back, but another bad service game put the Frenchman right back in danger. Goffin took another break on his second break point to go back ahead and give himself the opportunity to serve for the first set at 5-4.  

The Frenchman played the perfect opening point on return to go ahead, staying patient and waiting for the right time to inject the pace and force Goffin back as he rushed into the net to finish off the point. Mahut pulled off the same style of point again to take a 0-30 lead. A passing shot winner and a backhand volley leveled the pair at 30-30  but another double fault gave Mahut another break point. A big forehand got Goffin out of trouble and an ace gave the Belgian set point. The set point came and went as Goffin tried a backhand down the line that drifted wide. A scorching forehand return from Mahut brought up another break point as the Frenchman tried to get back into the set, and he took the break point with a volley winner to level the match again. 

The world number forty-one struggled on serve again but eventually held to stop the run of breaks at four and take a 6-5 lead. Goffin survived the pressure as he was serving to stay in the set and held to force a tiebreak. 

The Belgian took the mini-break in the opening point with a forehand down the line but Mahut hit the ball with so much slice that Goffin was unable to pick up the low ball and the Frenchman took the mini–break straight back. The Belgian survived an incredible rally to go 2-1 ahead on serve. Mahut held the next two points with a big serve and a bit of help from the net as the ball clipped it and rolled over to take a 3-2 lead. Big hitting from Mahut forced the error from Goffin and the mini-break went the way of the Frenchman, but again the break was claimed back straight away with a perfect passing shot from the Belgian. Mahut made his frustration known as he hit a shot into the net, handing the mini-break to Goffin. But again the break was immediately reclaimed with an unforced error from Goffin. The world number twelve held on to the next point to give himself a second set point, and a deep return forced an error from Mahut to give Goffin the first set 7-6(5). 

Close contest 

Goffin kept his momentum going into the start of the second set, beginning with a good hold and taking the early break to race to a 2-0 lead. The break was in danger straight away as Goffin went from 40-0 up to deuce. Mahut's one handed backhand was impressive as he earned himself a break point and stole back the break to keep hope alive. 

Goffin at the Shanghai Rolex Masters (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
Goffin at the Shanghai Rolex Masters (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Mahut got his first hold of the set to tie the pair up at 2-2 and Goffin followed with a love hold to stay in the lead. A string of loose shots from the Frenchman while 30-0 up left Goffin with another break point. It was saved as a volley from Goffin hit the net and although earning a second, it was erased with an ace. Another excellent passing shot from the Belgian brought up a third break point but Goffin was unable to control the return and it disappeared as quickly as it arrived. A backhand down the line attempt from the world number twelve just flew wide to bring the pair back to deuce and Mahut eventually scraped through the tight game to hold for 3-3. 

Goffin came through another tricky hold and then took a lead on the return as Mahut had a bad opening to his service game. Another double fault from the racket of the Frenchman left him in a dangerous position at 0-30. The Belgian crunched a backhand down the line to bring up break point and eventually take the late break that would allow him to serve for the match. The French crowd tried to will their man back into the match, but it was too late as Goffin came through a good hold under pressure to secure his place in the third round.