One player will have a chance to clinch the 2017 Davis Cup title for his country when Belgium’s David Goffin goes up against Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Sunday afternoon in Lille, France.
This marks the seventh career contest between the two players, with Tsonga leading the head-to-head series 4-2. They have split a pair of indoor hard-court encounters; Goffin got the job done 1-6, 7-6(5), 7-5 three years ago in Metz before Tsonga prevailed 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 in this season’s Rotterdam final. For whatever it’s worth, they are also 1-1 against each other on clay, while Tsonga is 2-0 on grass.
Both the atmosphere and the quality of tennis should make this one perhaps their most entertaining battle of all. Both men took flight during the fall swing, Goffin to the extent that he soared into the ATP Finals without much trouble. The 26-year-old captured back-to-back titles in Shenzhen and Tokyo–his first two of 2017–and eventually finished runner-up to Grigor Dimitrov in London after upsetting both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
Tsonga gave himself a shot at London going into the Paris Masters thanks to a title in Antwerp and a final appearance in Vienna (fell to Davis Cup teammate Lucas Pouille). But the world No. 15 is, who is a solid 38-14 this season despite briefly missing some time due to injury and the birth of his first child, saw his year-end championship hopes evaporate with an opening loss in Paris to compatriot Julien Benneteau.
Both players did exactly what they needed to do against lower-ranked opponents during the first singles matches of this competition on Friday. Goffin got things started by hammering Pouille 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 before Tsonga evened the tie with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 blowout of Steve Darcis.
Tsonga has home-court advantage, but arguably no one on tour–and certainly no one on these two teams–is as confident as Goffin right now. The world No. 7 has beefed up his serve this season, such that it is almost a weapon as opposed to a liability. That should continue to be especially advantageous on an indoor hard court, and both Goffin’s serve and his stellar return game should help him take control of rallies early and expose the Tsonga backhand.
Pick: Goffin in 4