French Open R3 preview and prediction: Goffin vs. Almagro

In what is suddenly a wide open section of the draw, David Goffin and Nicolas Almagro will try to capitalize on a big opportunity at the French Open starting when they face each other on Saturday. Adam Leigh previews the third-round showdown.

A resurgent Nicolas Almagro will square off against David Goffin for a spot in the last 16 of this year’s French Open on Saturday. Goffin is bidding for just his second appearance in a Grand Slam round of 16–arguably an underwhelming number for a player of his talent. To do so he will have to overturn a 0-3 record against Almagro, who has owned the diminutive Belgian in all of those contests, with the last coming on the clay courts of Monte Carlo in 2013.

Goffin has put together a great first half of 2016, compiling a 22-10 record and making Masters 1000 semifinal appearances in Miami and Indian Wells along the way. Almagro has had a mixed season to this point. Following a finals run in Buenos Aires, where he lost to Dominic Thiem, he went just 2-6 before picking up his first ATP title since 2012 in Estoril. Both players have dropped just one set between them through two rounds in Paris, as Goffin sailed past wild card Gregoire Barrere and Carlos Berlocq in straight sets, while Almagro took four to get past Philipp Kohlschreiber before dispatching Jiri Vesely in straights.
Goffin 1
Almagro has always been under-appreciated on clay; he has lived in the shadow of more venerated Spanish clay-courters for most of his career, with Rafael Nadal being the most obvious example. Thirteen titles on the dirt is an indication of just how much talent he possesses, although prior to Estoril it had been four seasons since he lifted any silverware. There are not too many players on tour who can put more work on the ball than Almagro. He steps to the ball and positions himself as well as anyone other than Nadal on the clay; this gives him plenty of time to impart a lot of spin from both wings and cause problems for his opponents.

Goffin is a wonderfully compact and technically exceptional player, but he struggles against those players who can do something out of the ordinary with the ball; as evidenced by his 3-27 record against top 10 players. Almagro may not enjoy such a status these days, but he hits like one on the dust; he has dominated Goffin previously and in good form at a venue he enjoys, there is no reason to think that won’t continue.

Pick: Almagro in 4

7 Comments on French Open R3 preview and prediction: Goffin vs. Almagro

  1. We’ll see, a lot of people really seem to like Goffin to get through to meet Djokovic with Nadal out. His technique is outstanding but he really has no big wins to speak of? At 25 that is a bit of a concern. Think his game has a definite ceiling. Either Almagro or Tsonga in the next round take care of him.

  2. I’m not feeling great about Goffin but it might be because I love David Goffin! and I want him to win too badly to see straight. Okay, there’s my confession.

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