Each tennis tournament, no matter where in the world, is unique. Belgian David Goffin is partial to Wimbledon in England and Roland-Garros in France because they’re European-based majors.
Yet, there’s something about the U.S. Open in New York City that sets it apart from the other Grand Slam events.
“It’s one of the best tournaments in the world,” Goffin said. “I’m so excited to start this tournament; it’s always special to come back here in New York and play this tournament with a lot of people and an amazing atmosphere in the stadiums. It can be amazing on the center court (Arthur Ashe Stadium), which is the best center court in the world. It’s amazing and I’m excited to be here.”
The No. 9 seed, Goffin begins his 2017 U.S. Open on Tuesday against Julien Benneteau. Goffin is anxious to regain his rhythm following an ankle injury suffered in the third-round of the French Open. He’s played sparingly since, but withdrew from all his grasscourt events, including Wimbledon.
“I’m feeling 100 percent,” said Goffin, currently 14th in the ATP rankings. “The key is just to be relaxed, to be 100 percent, and be really comfortable on my ankle and knee. If I’m relaxed, my game and level will come back really soon.”
Relaxing in the City That Never Sleeps is easier said than done, but Goffin, 26, has been able to find solace and tranquility in the simpler things — walking through Central Park or SoHo, reading, or shopping with his girlfriend.
He even traded in his tennis racket for a ping pong paddle at an event at Omni Berkshire Place on Thursday evening. Goffin took on approximately 12 challengers ranging in age and skill level in some friendly rounds of table tennis. He posed for photos and signed autographs.
Being in New York City has almost become second nature for the Belgian, whose first U.S. Open appearance was in 2012. Goffin took a double-decker bus tour through the city that year, but has gotten more and more familiar with the Big Apple every year when he returns. In fact, the city has gotten more familiar with the tennis star as well, as more people have begun recognizing him on the streets.
“It’s amazing to be in the middle of these buildings,” he said. “Just to walk in the streets is fantastic; you can just feel the energy with everything — the people walking, the buildings, the shops. I love all the parts of Manhattan.”
While he prefers to remain calm and focused before and during his matches, Goffin is prepared to harness that New York energy and enthusiasm if needed during the two-week tournament at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
“For me, I try to stay calm and stay really focused on what I have to do with my game,” he said. “I try not to watch people or the screens and I’ll try to stay within my match. When I have support from the fans sometimes it’s nice to use that energy when you’re tired, for example. If you need to come back in a match, it’s nice to take the energy from the crowd.”
NOTE: First appeared on Culture Trip