What A Memorable Week In Cincy For Coric

Borna Coric

MASON, OHIO/WASHINGTON, August 21, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

What a memorable week it’s been for Borna Coric – and it’s not over quite yet. It’s been four years since the 25-year-old native of Zagreb, Croatia has reached an ATP Masters 1000 final. On Saturday evening at the rain-delayed Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio, near Cincinnati, Coric waited patiently for his turn to play No. 9 seed Cameron Norrie. But it was worth the extra time and effort he put into it.

Coric beat Norrie, 6-3, 6-4, in an hour and 31 minutes on the Grandstand court. It lifted the former World No. 12 Coric, who is on the comeback trail from shoulder surgery, into his second career ATP Masters 1000 final and first one since 2018 at Shanghai.

On Sunday afternoon, Coric will face No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who upset World No. 1 and top seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia, 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-3, in two hours and 23 minutes on Center Court, in their 10th career meeting. Tsitsipas, who improved to 3-7 lifetime against Medvedev hit 30 winners to 45 unforced errors and outpointed his opponent 101-96. Meanwhile, Medvedev, who only placed 49 percent of his first serves in play, finished with 25 winners and committed 38 unforced errors.

“I’m going to have to play my game,” Tsitsipas said Friday, quoted by the ATP website, after defeating American John Isner in three sets during the quarterfinals. “Of course, an obstacle like Daniil is never easy, but I’m going to try to stay concentrated, try to approach my game in the most precise, best manner. I’ll let my tennis do the talking, and the rest will present itself if it’s something that I deserve.”

After beating Medvedev, the 24-year-old Tsitsipas said in his on-court interview: “There were some difficult shots I had to play a bit more. A few short balls I really took advantage of and came in. A lot of courageous serve and volleys, approaches to the net that definitely gave me that great win today. …

“I knew I had to sign up for a difficult task, third set, it wasn’t going to be easy. He made it very physical and really demanding for me. I just took advantage of some of his missed first serves. I think I had a couple opportunities where it seemed to be going towards to my side.”

Because of earlier rain delays during the day session, the Coric-Norrie match started 90 minutes late and was played at the same time as the Medvedev-Tsitsipas semifinal that was taking place on Center Court five hours after its regularly-scheduled 3 p.m. starting time. After Norrie jumped ahead 3-1 at the outset, Coric won five straight games to put away the opening set and never let up. He saved the only break point he faced in the second set and dropped just three points in his final four service games.

“It was a very tough day, a very long day as well,” Coric said during his on-court interview, looking relieved but happy. “I didn’t expect to play at 7:30 p.m. I came here at 3 o’clock and I thought I would play a little bit earlier. Then, I though I was going to play later because of the [rain] delay. it was later.

“It was a crazy day but in the end I finished very good and, obviously, I’m very happy with my tennis today. I played extremely well.”

Coric hit seven aces and struck 17 winners to offset 24 unforced error. He outpointed Norrie 63-47 for his second win in three meetings against the British No. 1. The 11th-ranked Norrie, who was appearing in his second career Masters 1000 semifinal, countered with nine winners but made 25 unforced errors.

“At the beginning I was not there, I was not feeling the ball very well,” Coric said. “Then, I did find my rhythm. I started to serve better, I started to play much better and I think that was the key to the match.”

The 152nd-ranked Coric, who entered on a protected ranking, eliminated No. 7 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada, 6-4, 6-4 in Friday’s quarterfinal round, and also scored main draw wins this week over Lorenzo Musetti of Italy, No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal of Spain, No. 15 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain and Norrie– all who have won ATP Tour titles this year.

By reaching the title match, Coric is the lowest-ranked finalist in Cincinnati history (since the start of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in 1973) and second-lowest-ranked ATP Masters 1000 finalist after No. 191 Andrei Pavel at Paris in 2003.

No. 1 seeds Ram and Salisbury advance to doubles final

No. 1 seeds Rajeev Ram of the United States and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain advanced to Sunday’s doubles final after defeating Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France and Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico, 6-4, 7-5. They will face No. 6 seeds Tim Puetz of Germany and Michael Venus of New Zealand. The German-Kiwi duo reached the final by walkover after Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece and Holger Rune of Denmark withdrew following Tsitsipas’ singles semifinal victory over Daniil Medvedev.

By the numbers

• After entering the Western & Southern Open main draw using a protected ranking, Borna Coric has soared 104 places to No. 48 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. He could reach as high as No. 29 with a title victory Sunday.

• Coric has dropped just one set this week, during his second-round upset of Rafael Nadal.

“Quotable …”

“He’s a great competitor. He’s really got some good level. I’ve watched him quite a lot this week. He beat Rafa, obviously, the other day. He’s playing some of his top level. He’s won his matches very comfortably, so he’s going to be feeling pretty fresh and ready to go.”

Cameron Norrie of Great Britain, commenting after his quarterfinal win against Carlos Alcaraz on his semifinal opponent, Borna Coric.