His targets are measured: Van Cleemput hopes Goffin can reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam and the final of a Masters event. He expects Goffin, 27, to have greater opportunities for success once the aging Grand Slam champions Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka have retired.
“In the future it’s going to different; there will be opportunities for everybody,” Van Cleemput said.
Goffin’s best result came at the World Tour Finals in London last November, when he beat Federer and Nadal en route to the final, which he lost to Dimitrov. He is at his most comfortable, however, at this time of year, when the tour hits the European clay courts, with which he has been accustomed since his youth in Belgium.
“As soon as I play on this surface, I feel great,” he said.
Nadal, the top seed at this tournament, said that Goffin has proved that his relative lack of size was “not a drama, you know?”
“He’s super quick,” Nadal said. “He has big talent. He’s there because he has everything that a tennis player needs to become a top player.”
Goffin has long idolized Nadal’s archrival, Federer, and hopes he can emulate the 36-year-old’s longevity on tour with his similarly graceful, floating style.
”The key for me will be to play as long as I can,” he said, “and hopefully to be physically like Roger when I’m 36.”