Cincinnati – Borna Coric, the first week of the rest of his life

This one, you had to see it coming. If someone bet their 13th month on a Borna Coric coronation in Cincinnati, it’s clairvoyance. The title of the Croatian in Ohio constitutes, in substance as well as in form, one of the greatest sensations of recent years. Not that the young man is devoid of talent. On the contrary.

Member of the Top 100 even before he was 18, winner of Rafael Nadal at the same age, he was expected as one of the most beautiful jewels of the NextGen even before this expression was used. Then the injuries set in and the big hitter from Zagreb slowly but surely disappeared from circulation.

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In his case, the key was the physical. Today, he can express himself 100% again and that changes everything. But from there to considering winning his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati, there was a margin. Lifting the trophy with the number 152 on his back, Borna Coric set a record, becoming the worst-ranked player to win in this category of tournaments. He erases from the shelves the Spaniard Roberto Carretero, 143rd in the world during his astonishing victory in Hamburg in 1996.

Five weeks ago, he lost against the 311th in the world

It’s all the more remarkable as the Croatian didn’t benefit from particularly favorable circumstances. Just take a look at his career at “Cincy” to be convinced. On the road to the title, he has, in order, pinned the following players:

. Lorenzo Musetti (33rd)
. Rafael Nadal (3rd)
. Roberto Bautista Agut (19th)
. Felix Auger-Aliassime (9th)
. Cameron Norrie (11th)
. Stefanos Tsitsipas (7th)

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Hard to beat. Yes, Nadal was just returning to competition, but playing the piss-cold in front of such a hunting board would be funny, to put it mildly. “I have no words, franklyhe admitted Sunday evening after laying the last stone of his phenomenal week, against Tsitsipas. It’s an incredible feeling, and I just wanna savor it“Winning a first Masters 1000 is always a major achievement, but when you’ve been through what Coric has been through, the taste is arguably even more enjoyable.

The Croatian, who had flirted with the Top 10 (12th) at the end of 2018 at the age of 22, had finally resolved to go to the pool table in the spring of 2021 to repair this right shoulder which never stopped ruining his life. Away from the courts for a year, forced to inflict daily work sessions first to solidify and then, today, protect this same shoulder, he said he was convinced of being able to find his best level. However, between his return in March to Indian Wells and this month of August, he had won only four small matches in five months on the main circuit. He has just won six in one week, including five against the Top 20 and four against the top 11 in the world.

Borna Coric, the incredible coronation.

Credit: Imago

Even in challengers, where he has never been reluctant to go, all was not rosy. Ups, like this title in Parma in June, and downs, like his defeat in the first round in Iasi, Romania, against Nicholas David Ionel, 311th at ATP. It was only five weeks before his triumph in Cincinnati. “I thought I could play good tennis, I practiced a lot and I felt my game was there. But playing at this level, I did not imagine it, no. I certainly didn’t think I would win the tournament, especially after playing so badly in the previous tournament (in Montreal, where he was beaten from the start by Marin Cilic, editor’s note).“A form of reward for the galleys of the last two years.

A lob back to the net in squash mode: Coric’s stroke of genius

Back to his place

Cincinnati is like the first week of the rest of his life. Or his career at least. Thanks to this title, Borna Coric made in seven days a good that he hoped to achieve in several months. With 123 places won all at once, here he is again in the Top 30 (29th). An unexpected saving of time which opens up new prospects for him when, since his return, he hardly dared to think about the next match. As Stefanos Tsitsipas whispered to him, he’s just back”in its place“. It’s not false. After all, the Coric hypothesis winning a Masters 1000, a few years ago, was possible.

In Cincinnati, it has also evolved into a form of recklessness specific to ghosts and beginners alike. The game for the game, the pleasure of rediscovered sensations without the obligation of results that one inflicts on oneself. Will he be able to maintain this dynamic in the weeks and months to come by leaving the register of the “fairy tale”?

If he should not be asked to slam Masters 1000 every three to four mornings, Coric wants to be serene. Firstly because at 25 years old, so almost ten on the circuit and events that tanned his leather, he probably has the maturity to apprehend such a victory. At 20, before his misfortunes, the thing would surely have been more delicate. We won’t go so far as to say that all of this was a blessing in disguise, but… Borna Coric is (re)launched, and maybe for good. As long as his shoulder leaves him alone.

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