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David Goffin's success on the tennis court a win for the small

These days, tennis is a sport that belongs largely to the tall.

Eight of the ATP World Tour's top 10 players are listed at 6-feet-1 or more, and No. 1-ranked Andy Murray is a sturdy, strapping 6-3, 185 pounds.

In a game of angles, it makes sense that the best players enjoy advantages of leverage and power, particularly in the critical area of serving.

A week ago, David Goffin scored a modest victory for the small. At 5-foot-11, 150 pounds, the Belgian cracked the top 10 for the first time.

"Yeah, yeah, it's funny," Goffin told ESPN.com on Tuesday from Acapulco where he's playing in the Abierto Mexicano Telcel event. "Because last year I was talking to Gilles Simon, and he told me I could be the next guy weighing less than 70 kilos [154 lbs] to be in the top 10. We laughed about it.

"But he was right. We can play with the big guys because we also have weapons. It's good to see different games."

Indeed, Simon -- presently himself at 70 kilos -- has carved out a nice living as a speedy, intuitive counter-puncher. He reached the top 10 in 2008 and, according to Joshua Rey of the ATP, Goffin is the lightest player to do it since.

Combing through old media guides, Rey discovered that Simon's listed weight for 2008 matched Goffin's 150. Previously, Guillermo Coria (145 pounds) and Sebastien Grosjean (147) were the lightest top-10 players, both in 2004.

"I don't have the same serve speed as some of the guys, but I have good footwork, and I take the ball early," Goffin explained. "I am trying to play more on the baseline, be more into the court."

This is a page from the script of his idol, Roger Federer, who parlayed his ethereal hand-eye coordination into an 18th major title on the super-swift courts at the recent Australian Open. Like Kei Nishikori, who at 5-10, 165 pounds is the top-10 player closest to his size, Goffin sometimes has to force the issue just to break even.

He is 26 years old and in his sixth year as an ATP regular, but you would never know it. His face has the pink cheeks and the clean, fresh lines of someone younger.

As this season enters its third month, Goffin is playing the best tennis of his life. Riding his trademark backhand and a new degree of aggression, Goffin has already been to two finals this year. He also reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open -- for the second time at a major. It took one of the hottest players on tour, Grigor Dimitrov, to beat Goffin in Melbourne and the final in Sofia, Bulgaria. Goffin returned the favor in Rotterdam, beating Dimitrov in the quarters before eventually losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final.

According to Goffin, the reason for the great start is his preparation.

In 2015, he helped the Belgian team reach the Davis Cup finals for the first time since 1904. This was a big deal for his country, where Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters brought Belgium its first (and only) Fed Cup title in 2001. Goffin, who went 4-0 in singles in the quarters and semifinals, beat Kyle Edmund of Great Britain in the finals, but fell in doubles and reverse singles to Murray.

Last year, he was a revelation during the March North American hardcourt season. After playing 19 previous ATP World Tour 1000s and failing to reach the semifinals, he did it twice, at Indian Wells and Miami.

Then later in the year, after appearing as an alternate at the year-end championships -- he played for an injured Gael Monfils and lost to Novak Djokovic -- Goffin worked hard on and off the court. He particularly focused on beefing up his serve and sharpening his volleys. One significant off-season move was parting ways with coaching consultant Thomas Johansson after a nine-month partnership. Goffin continues to work with Thierry Van Cleemput, his coach of four years.

"But I want to keep improving. My serve still has to improve a lot and I want to be more aggressive still."

In a world where millions play tennis, the top 10 is the cream (OK, steamed milk) at the top of that global latte.

"It means a lot, even if it's just a number," Goffin said. "To be in the top 10 for the first time, it's like a dream. When you start to play tennis, it's something you think about.

"It's a great feeling. In the future, I can tell my children that I was in the top 10."

Regardless of his stature, that is a larger-than-life accomplishment.