Read & Watch: Coric Continues Career Year; Advances To SFs
The best season of Borna Coric's young career continues to get better.
Coric defeated Aussie Matthew Ebden 7-5, 6-4 on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the Rolex Shanghai Masters, advancing to the last four of an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event for the second time. The Croatian will next face top seed Roger Federer, the defending champion.
Heading into 2018, Coric was 19-21 in Masters 1000, having made the quarter-finals at the elite level three times. But this year, the 21-year-old is 17-7 at the elite level, including two trips to the last four and his first two semi-finals. Thanks to his efforts in Shanghai, Coric is projected to crack the Top 15 of the ATP Rankings for the first time, and he can climb as high as No. 13 if he captures the title.
Coric’s victory over Ebden is his 35th match win of the season. His previous career-best came in 2015, when, then a teenager, he earned 26 victories. Coric will try to add another triumph to his tally against Federer in a rematch of the championship match at the Gerry Weber Open in June, where Coric lifted the biggest trophy of his career.
While the 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier entered that grass-court event with just a 2-7 tour-level record on the surface, Coric ousted Alexander Zverev in the first round and then Federer in the final, becoming the tournament’s youngest titlist in its 26-year-history. Federer still leads the pair’s FedEx ATP Head2Head series 2-1, including a win against Coric in the Indian Wells semi-finals.
While Coric got through his quarter-final in straight sets, it was not easy. Ebden got off to the best possible start, seven years on from reaching his first Masters 1000 quarter-final as a World No. 124-ranked qualifier in Shanghai (l. to Murray). Aggressive on return in Coric’s first service game, the Australian struck a big forehand down the line and readjusted well for a backhand volley winner to take a 2-0 lead.
But Coric responded immediately to break to 15, with Ebden hitting a forehand volley into the net. Ebden, who often serve and volleyed, gifted Coric a second break of serve at 5-5, 30/40, with another forehand volley error. Coric went onto complete the 45-minute set with an ace.
And the World No. 19 maintained his momentum early in the second set, hitting a crosscourt forehand at 1-1 that Ebden could not handle to earn another break. Ebden later double-faulted another break away, and while the Aussie battled back to within 3-4 in the set, Coric held on to advance after one hour and 33 minutes.