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Sport

Teenager Sinner sinks 11th seed Goffin on French Open debut

PARIS (Reuters) - 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.

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - September 27, 2020. Italy's Jannik Sinner after winning his first round match against Belgium's David Goffin. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

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.

But Goffin, who reached the quarter-finals 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 the first match under the new roof of court Philippe Chatrier and the opening match of the tournament, Sinner showed he belonged on the big 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.”

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.

It was all Sinner after that as his sizzling forehand started generating more power and Goffin struggled to stay in the rallies 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.”

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.

“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.”

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

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Ed Osmond

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