Defending Champ Coric Stays Alive In Halle

Croatian finishes with 41 winners to 45 unforced errors

Last year's champion Borna Coric has never defended more ATP Rankings points than he is this week at the NOVENTI OPEN, an ATP 500 event in Halle.

So Coric will be especially pleased to have squeaked past Portugal's Joao Sousa 7-6(4), 5-7, 7-6(4) in two hours, 55 minutes on Wednesday to return to the quarter-finals at the grass-court event. The Croatian beat nine-time champion Roger Federer in last year's final for the biggest title of his career.

"I'm just very happy... It was not an easy match, but I got the win, that's what's most important," Coric said.

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The 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals semi-finalist had to overcome a rough ending to the second set – he was broken in the 11th game – to stay alive in Halle. The 22-year-old underwent a medical timeout for a rib injury after the third game in the deciding set, but he recovered from that as well and pulled away in the tie-break. Sousa, who was 0/4 on break points in the final set and led 4/2 in the third-set tie-break, fell to 11-18 on the year. 

"I was losing 4/2 in the tie-break. I was feeling like I'm actually losing the match. So now to turn it around, I must be very, very happy," Coric said.

He will next meet Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who made his fourth ATP Tour quarter-final of 2019 by beating qualifier Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine 2-6, 7-6(2), 6-4. Herbert hit nine aces for the match and didn't face a break point in the deciding set.

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In doubles, top seeds and two-time defending champions Lukasz Kubot/Marcelo Melo ousted Dutchmen Wesley Koolhof/Matwe Middelkoop 6-3, 6-2 and will next face David Goffin/Herbert.

Second seeds Raven Klaasen/Michael Venus edged Dominic Inglot/Austin Krajicek 7-6(4), 7-6(6) and will meet the Austrian team of Oliver Marach/Jurgen Melzer. In the only other doubles match of the day, Matteo Berrettini/Jean-Julien Rojer swept Radu Albot/Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-4.

Did You Know?
Herbert improved to 12-11 on grass. He's 47-58 on hard and 14-16 on clay.

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