French veteran puts Goffin in Open coffin

Belgian Davis Cup star David Goffin has capitulated in the severe Australian Open heat against French journeyman Julien Benneteau.

In sweltering 40C heat on show court 2, the seventh seed saved two match points at 3-5 down in the fourth set but dropped his second tiebreak of the second-round clash to bow out 1-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 7-6 (7-4) on Thursday.

Goffin, who steered the European nation past Australia in last year’s Davis Cup semi-finals, had more winners, less unforced errors and won six more points than the world No.59 Benneteau in the two-hour, 54-minute upset.

Alas, two months after Goffin conquered both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer en route to the season-ending championship final in London, it was the 36-year-old Benneteau instead who set up a third-round meeting with Fabio Fognini.

The Italian 25th seed was a four-set winner over Russian Evgeny Donskoy.

The winner will play either Argentine 12th seed Juan Martin del Potro or former semi-finalist Tomas Berdych for a quarter-final berth.

Del Potro remains a title dark horse after seeing off Russian Karen Khachanov 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (0-7) 6-4.

Berdych, seeded 19th this year, overpowered Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-3 2-6 6-2 6-3 in a battle of two more old stagers.

Austrian fifth seed Dominic Thiem endured a draining second-round scare, fighting back from two sets down against American qualifier Denis Kudla.

The 24-year-old Thiem was staring down the barrel against the 190th-ranked Kudla, but found another gear to score a 6-7 (6-8) 3-6 6-3 6-2 6-3 win on Margaret Court Arena.

American 13th seed Sam Querrey is out of the Open after going down 6-4 7-6 (8-6) 4-6 6-2 to Hungary’s world No.80 Marton Fucsovics.

Fucsovics will play Argentine Nicholas Kicker, the five-set slayer of Australian Jordan Thompson who pushed past Slovak Lukas Lacko 6-2 7-5 1-6 7-5.

In a battle of the whiz-kids, South Korean Hyeon Chung replicated his Next-Gen ATP Finals victory over Daniil Medvedev two months ago, prevailing 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 6-1 to end the Russian’s six-match summer winning streak.

US wildcard Tim Smyczek fell 6-4 6-2 7-6 (7-2) to 21st-seeded Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who earned a shot at six-time champion Novak Djokovic.

The Serb rallied from a set down in the brutal heat to beat dangerous Frenchman Gael Monfils 4-6 6-3 6-1 6-3.

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