It was the last time on court that wasn't the best for Belgium's David Goffin as he'd played at the Shenzhen Open in September, bowing to Britain's Andy Murray. He had developed pain on his right elbow causing him to withdraw from the Rakuten Open Japan Tennis Championships in Tokyo.
Goffin was hurting in two regards: one, suffering from a painful elbow and also from not being able to defend his title which he had won triumphantly in 2017. The Belgian apologized for missing the tournament but explained on his social media page saying "...I had to withdraw from Tokyo and Shanghai due to right elbow pain.
The pain appeared a few weeks ago and it has worsened recently...I have a bone edema. I need at least one month to recover so I am sad to announce that I have to put an end to my season..." Many say 'Its' not how you start, but how you finish', but Goffin's beginning season was fine that most times he was able to go deep into tournaments.
Despite a second-round loss at the Australian Open by Julien Benneteau, Goffin was optimistic about playing the Davis Cup for his team against Hungary. "These are conditions I like, I will be laying in my hometown so I'll have extra motivation to hopefully play my best tennis this weekend", he said anxiously.
He didn't let his team down and won both singles rubbers to qualify for the quarterfinal with the United States. It was a monumental win and he kept his fever pitch up for winning by reaching two semifinals, one at the Open Sud de France, but he lost to Richard Gasquet.
The other was the Rotterdam Open where he experienced another loss to Grigor Dimitrov. He started having misfortunes afterwards when a tennis ball bounced off his racket and hit him in the eye. There was no structural damage to the eye socket, just severe swelling causing him to withdraw from the Marseille Open and a week later having to withdraw from Indian Wells.
He participated in the Miami Open but lost in the opener to Joao Sousa. It hasn't been a consistently good year for Goffin being that his ups were good and his downs were extremely bad. He had the two injuries, the eye condition and the elbow injury forbidding him from playing, creating a halt to him raising his rankings and performance levels.
He had to go back to Belgium for an eye examination and unfortunately was unable to participate in the World Group of the Davis Cup quarterfinals against the United States. The positive side though was that the Belgian did find the strategies to make the quarterfinals at Monte Carlo, the semifinals of Barcelona and the quarters at Rome.
The grand slams he remained focused but could only go to the fourth round of the French Open, bowing to Marco Cecchinato but was proud of himself for managing to upset Novak Djokovic in the quarters. This win helped to keep his rankings stable but his pace of having a 'see-saw' season continued with the grass season as Goffin had opening-round losses at both the Queen's and Wimbledon Championships.
It was at this point he could only look forward to the hardcourt season but it was no telling how his vision or eye would feel. He not only was concerned about his health but his playing ability but did try for some consistency as he went to the quarters at the CitiOpen and the semis of Cincinnati defeating Kevin Anderson and Juan Martin del Potro.
Goffin gained confidence with his standards and went through the semifinal round with Roger Federer. But his body was slowly bending to the constant play and it wasn't the eye but during a medical timeout he'd sustained a shoulder and arm injury and had to retire after the first set tiebreaker.
"Didn't make sense to continue. I was serving 100 miles per hour first serve, and then...I felt my arm and my shoulder..." he explained about the intense pain. Federer even added that "David wouldn't pull the plug unless he had to".
Everyone was disappointed when he had retired but he still received a standing ovation from the crowd for his diligent efforts as he left the stadium. David Goffin is a trooper and made it to the last grand slam of the tour, the U.S.
Open going through the fourth round as he previously did in 2017. The other shining time in David Goffin's season was the 2018 Laver Cup held in Chicago. He had a splendorous time with his comrades and opponents and had beaten Diego Schwartzman in a tension-filled round, feeling grateful he was healthy enough to participate in this prestigious event helping his Team Europe to win.
Afterwards, he was very elated saying "It was an amazing atmosphere. I had to stay focused". It's David Goffin's wish to have a healthy 2019 season and professionally to remain consistent, focused and determined to go deep in tournaments and perhaps raise his rankings from being in the top 20s, back to the top 10 and add to his tennis resume with capturing a title or two.