Paris: Andy Murray handed out a tennis lesson to David Goffin at the Paris Masters on Thursday, three weeks before the two are due to go head-to-head in the Davis Cup final between Britain and Belgium.
The two had met just once before, Murray winning in straight sets in the first round at Wimbledon 2014, when he was defending the crown he won in dramatic fashion the previous year.
That was on grass, while the Davis Cup final from November 27-29 in Ghent will be on clay, which the Belgians chose, believing it gives them a better chance of countering the world number three.
Thursday’s match-up, in contrast, was on a hardcourt, but there were valuable psychological points to be won with the final in mind.
Those went totally to Murray, who will now go on to play Richard Gasquet. The Frenchman moved through when sixth seed Kei Nishikori of Japan withdrew with Gasquet leading 7-6 (7/3), 4-1. At stake will be a first-ever Paris Masters semi-final appearance for the Scot.
Andy Murray (left) shakes hands with Belgium’s David Goffin after the British world number three …
– Davis Cup –
Murray said he was expecting a different challenge when the two national number ones face off in Ghent on a claycourt surface chosen by the Belgians to aid their players.
“Obviously clay is seen as being my worst surface, but I still feel like I play well on that court,” he said.
“I don’t know what speed the court’s going to be. You know, if it’s quick, then I think that that will help my serve a lot. If it’s slow, then I feel like I can track a lot of balls down on the clay which is positive.
“But it was good for me to get the chance to play him before the Davis Cup and see his game and the speed of his shots and where he maybe makes some mistakes from and things that he likes to do.
“Obviously with the result, that’s a positive. I mean, mentally for me it’s a positive win.”
Goffin put as brave a face as possible on the loss, saying he would take a few days’ rest to recharge his batteries before joining up with the Belgian team at the end of next week.
“Andy was extremely efficient today,” he said. “This didn’t help me to get into that match. This is why that match was the way it was,” he said.
“As far as I was concerned, I thought this would be my last match of the (ATP Tour) season, so it’s really tough to really put all your energy into it.”
Gasquet’s win over Nishikori extended his domination over Asia’s top player to 6-0 and it hinged on a first-set tie-break that saw the Frenchman win four points in a row from 3-3.
The Frenchman grabbed an early break in the second set to go 4-1 up after which Nishikori took a medical timeout for treatment on a back problem. He tried to continue, but was forced to abandon in the next game.