Goffin Rallies Past Nardi, Sets Zverev Clash In Rome
David Goffin needed all of his experience to outlast #NextGenATP Italian Luca Nardi on Thursday at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, where the Belgian escaped a precarious position to book his spot in the second round at the clay-court ATP Masters 1000.
The two-time quarter-finalist Goffin prevailed 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 to advance to face 2017 champion Alexander Zverev in the Italian capital. Although he trailed the 19-year-old home favourite Nardi 3-6, 2-4, Goffin converted four of his five break points across the second and third sets to seal a two-hour, 22-minute triumph at the Foro Italico.
“I was a little bit tight at the beginning of the match and he was playing well,” reflected Goffin. “He didn’t leave me any [chances] in the first set and at the beginning of the second. It was a few points that made the difference, because he had the break, and I was really close to coming back in some long games."
The former World No. 7 Goffin dropped out of the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time since July 2014 on Monday after struggling for consistency and with his fitness this year. The 32-year-old was pleased with the way he had dug deep to earn his first Masters 1000 victory of 2023.
“If it would have been [6-3, 6-4] for him, it would have been, ‘OK, congrats’, but I had to fight and I won a few important points in the second to turn it around,” said Goffin. “After that I started to play even better and he was a little bit mentally down. I started to play more in the third, so I’m very happy I managed to win this one.”
Daniel Altmaier also held off an up-and-coming home favourite on Thursday in Rome. The German, who reached his maiden Masters 1000 quarter-final in Madrid last week, pulled away to a 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-0 win against 21-year-old Giulio Zeppieri. He will next take on Houston champion Frances Tiafoe.
Despite Nardi and Zeppieri falling just short, Marco Cecchinato gave the home fans something to cheer at the Foro Italico. The 30-year-old moved to 6-0 in opening-round ATP Tour matches for the year by downing Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 7-5. Cecchinato plays Roberto Bautista Agut next.
Making his Rome debut, the World No. 66 Jason Kubler notched an impressive 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-2 win against Marc-Andrea Huesler. The Australian converted six of his 11 break points against the big-serving Swiss to wrap a two-hour, 31-minute victory, his first at a clay-court Masters 1000 event. Kubler’s reward is a second-round clash against 31st seed Bernabe Zapata Miralles.