Coric Matches Best Grand Slam Result
Pouille outlasts Popyrin in five sets
The 11th seed reached his second straight Grand Slam fourth round, firing 51 winners throughout the two-hour, 43-minute contest. At the 2018 US Open, Coric dropped one set en route to the fourth round before a straight-sets loss to eventual runner-up Juan Martin del Potro. Coric will meet Lucas Pouille for a place in the quarter-finals.
After dropping two of his opening three service games to lose the first set, Coric capitalised on service and forehand errors from Krajinovic to secure the only break of the second set and level the match.
In the third set, Coric ripped a forehand return to earn a 4-3 lead before clinching the set with a dipping backhand to the laces of Krajinovic at the net. Coric then charged into a 4-0 lead in the fourth set, as Krajinovic began to misfire on his groundstrokes at important moments. Despite failing to serve the match out at 5-2, Coric soon advanced with a fifth service break in the following game after taking control on match point with a sequence of powerful forehands.
Krajinovic was bidding to reach the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam for the first time. The 2017 Rolex Paris Masters finalist (l. to Sock) had never previously won a match at the Melbourne event.
It appeared as though the 24-year-old Frenchman would advance in straight sets, holding one match point at 6-6 (8/7) in the third set, but Pouille was unable to find the court as Popyrin charged forward and attacked his backhand, before reeling off the next two sets.
"It was not easy, especially [given] that I had a lot of chances in the third set to close it and I didn't make it. I think I can blame myself," said Pouille.
But Pouille rediscovered his best form in the decider, using his experience and playing with consistency from the baseline to extract a crucial forehand error from Popyrin, who was playing his first five-set match, in the sixth game. Serving for the match, the Frenchman then converted his second match point with a cross-court forehand; his 64th winner of the match.
"It's always tricky to play an Australian in Melbourne," said Pouille. "It's only one month in the year for them to play here [in Australia], so they always play some unbelievable tennis.
"He has a huge serve and a huge forehand. He's going for it most of the time. It's not easy. You have to stay focused on every single point [and] try to make him play. I think he's playing some really great tennis. I'm sure he's going to break the Top 100, Top 50 very soon."
Did You Know?
If Marin Cilic joins Coric in the Round of 16 here, it will be the second time that Croatia has had multiple representatives in the Australian Open fourth round. In 2010, Cilic and Ivo Karlovic both reached the Round of 16 in Melbourne.