MELBOURNE: Belgian David Goffin put the final polish on his game for the Australian Open by beating explosive Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 6-2 on Friday to win the Kooyong Classic.
The world number 16 overcame a lightning start from Lopez, three behind him in the rankings, with the Spaniard producing love games on his first two serves before simmering down.
The set turned in an instant at 4-4 with Lopez broken for 4-5 and Goffin snapping up the set after 33 minutes. The Belgian took full advantage of his lead by breaking to start the second set.
With the Lopez game suddenly in freefall, Goffin consolidated with a break for 3-0 and moved out to 5-2.
Lopez rallied briefly in the penultimate game, saving three match points and holding for 2-5 with his seventh ace of the afternoon before Goffin served out to secure the title.
The Belgian finished in just over an hour with 17 winners and five breaks of serve; Lopez was felled by 29 unforced errors, going nil-for-six on break point chances.
“It was a fantastic week for me,” said Goffin, who begins at the Australian Open next week against Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky.
“This is the best way to prepare for the Grand Slam. The conditions (rain, heat) are just what you expect for the Open.”
Lopez put in a humourous plea to Kooyong club officials whose venue will host the Davis Cup first-round tie against the US on grass in March.
“I have a special wish: please keep the grass courts for us to play on next year,” said the Spaniard who has achieved three Wimbledon quarterfinals and has always had a love for the lawns.
The pre-Australian Open Kooyong is played on the identical hardcourt used at Melbourne Park to exactly duplicate conditions at the first major of the season, starting Monday.
In the playoff for third and fourth place, Spain’s Pablo Carreno-Busta defeated Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-4, 3-6, 10-3.
“It was a good match for me, I’m happy with my form. I’m ready for the Open,” Carreno-Busta said. “I had a tough match with Gilles but it will help to be ready for the Open.”