Resilient Coric Comes Through In The Clutch Again
Borna Coric was down and it looked as if he'd soon be out. The 21-year-old Croatian, who had never beaten Kevin Anderson before Thursday, double faulted to lose his serve and go down 2-4 in the third set of their BNP Paribas Open quarter-final.
Until that point, Anderson had been broken only two times in the tournament, and two more holds would have him in his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final.
But Coric remained solid and immediately broke back, and in the third set tie-break, the rising star kept up a trend that has propelled him to his first Masters 1000 semi-final this week in Indian Wells. Coric won his second third-set tie-break of the tournament to advance 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(3). The right-hander has now won 11 of his past 12 deciding-set tie-breaks.
“I didn't start very well. He was hitting the ball very big, and I just couldn't find my rhythm on the ball,” Coric said. “I started going more for the serve. And then I broke him earlier in the second set, which was really helpful. In the third, again, I knew it's one break, it's two or three points that are going to decide, and that's what happened.”
In the semi-final, he will next meet top seed and unbeaten Roger Federer or 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals Hyeon Chung in a rematch of their Australian Open semi-final, in which Chung had to retire in the second set because of blisters. “Chung is in fantastic form. Roger, I don't have to say anything. You know, we all know him,” Coric said. “I'm going to try to look at the match a little bit, have a nice steak.”
All signs pointed to Anderson clinching his spot in the last four of the BNP Paribas Open. The right-hander, No. 9 in the ATP Rankings, had beaten Coric in all three of their FedEx ATP Head2Head matchups, and coming into the quarter-final, Anderson had won 97 per cent of his service games in Indian Wells (38/39).
But Coric, who changed his entire team last year and is now working with Riccardo Piatti and Kristijan Schneider, played confidently and never sulked against the big-serving South African. After losing the first set in only 31 minutes, Coric broke to start the second set and fought off the only break point he faced in the set.
The third set was back and forth before Anderson lifted another forehand long on match point, and Coric crouched near the ground and screamed at his box in jubilation. Anderson, meanwhile, fell to 0-9 in Masters 1000 quarter-finals.