On Monday morning, more than a month before the final of the Davis Cup between France and Belgium, both countries faced off in battle … on the water! Team Belgium convincingly won the European Open Pedalo Cup in the docks of the Port of Antwerp.
All the major Belgian names and a few of France’s best players in the main draw of the European Open, the only ATP World Tour tournament in Belgium, is a taste of what is to come next month: Belgium-France. Before the battle on the tennis court in the Lotto Arena begins, a smaller battle took place on the water on Monday morning on the docks of the iconic Antwerp Port House. In a pedalo competition, David Goffin and Steve Darcis won against Benoit Paire and Sébastien Grosjean, former number 4 in the world and winner of the Davis Cup in 2001.
The Australian Nick Kyrgios acted as chief umpire of the pedalo contest and saw Team Belgium take a flying start. Team France had some difficulty in navigating and could not make up for the lost time. And so David Goffin and Steve Darcis were the clear winners of the European Open Pedalo Cup! Afterwards, the protagonists could analyze their performance at a press conference in the Port’s panorama hall, and chat about the upcoming week of tennis.
“Let’s be honest, the opposition today was not that strong,” said Steve Darcis with a wink. “Our boat was sabotaged,” replied Benoit Paire. “In the Davis Cup, it may be a bit more exciting,” continued Darcis. “I had a great time on the water, it was a great idea!”. David Goffin also found the European Open Pedalo Cup pure fun. “I don’t know if the French will have recovered from this heavy effort next month. The physical and psychological benefit in the Davis Cup is for us,” joked Goffin.
GOFFIN: ‘CONFIDENTIAL BOARD’
After this little outing the conversation got more serious and focused on tennis. Goffin has been back on home turf for three days after a successful Asian tour with tournament wins in Shenzhen and Tokyo. “I’m happy to be in Belgium again. I feel good and have a few more days to recover from the time difference. Also, I won’t yet think about my first match on Thursday, though I’m full of confidence. I am considered the favorite, but I don’t think I am.”
Steve Darcis had to fight against Nick Kyrgios a few weeks ago in Beijing with a neck injury. “The injury is a thing of the past, I’m 100 percent ready for the European Open,” said the player from Liège, who plays his first match on Wednesday night. “I hope there will be a lot of people watching. In a room full of Belgian fans, I can always do something more”, Darcis mentioned, referring to his nickname ‘Mister Davis Cup’.
One month ago, Nick Kyrgios lost in Brussels with the Australian team in the semi-finals of the Davis Cup. “I didn’t think I’d be back in Belgium so soon, but I’m glad I’m here. The European Open has a strong group of players, and I’m going to play doubles together with my mate Matt Reid.”