Djokovic Survives Coric Scare, Reaches Vienna QFs
Borna Coric pulled Novak Djokovic into deep waters in the first set of their second-round match at the Erste Bank Open on Wednesday. But the top seed drowned the Croatian with unrelenting play to reach the quarter-finals.
Djokovic saved four set points in the opener before stepping on the gas in a 7-6(11), 6-3 victory over two hours and eight minutes against the two-time ATP Tour titlist. Djokovic is now guaranteed to finish as year-end No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings for a record-tying sixth time unless Nadal takes a wild card into Sofia. Should the Serbian win the Vienna title, he is certain to finish year-end No. 1 regardless of whether the Spaniard competes in Sofia.
“It was very tiring and very challenging. Obviously Borna is a great fighter. He’s a very good friend of mine. Off the court we’ve known each other for quite a long time,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview. “He has kind of a similar style of tennis as I do. From the backhand corner [he’s] very solid [and he is] trying to create points with his forehand. He was serving very well, especially in the first set. It was very difficult for me to return his serve.”
Coric entered the clash with an 0-3 ATP Head2Head record against the World No. 1, losing all six of their previous sets. But the 23-year-old played tremendous all-court tennis to earn four chances to win the first-set tie-break.
At 5/6, Djokovic floated a backhand volley deep in the court, giving Coric plenty of time to unleash a backhand passing shot. But the top seed guessed the right direction and although he didn't hit his forehand volley cleanly, he did enough to win the point.
”The tie-break again like yesterday against Krajinovic decided the match, I guess. I read his passing shot at 5/6 in the tie-break. He had quite an easy backhand. I read him, I made a short forehand volley,” Djokovic said. “These kinds of things happen and I’m just really glad to stay focussed and play my best at the right time.”
Coric missed forehands on set points at 7/6 and 8/7 before Djokovic painted the line on the fourth set point he faced at 9/10. The 2007 Vienna champion then escaped trouble when the Croatian missed a backhand long.
Djokovic is now 22-2 in tie-breaks since the start of last year's Wimbledon final against Roger Federer. Once he got through the opener, he raised his level even higher. Coric hit his first double fault of the match when facing break point at 1-1 in the second set, and that proved costly.
Although Coric showed great baseline play throughout the match and even won some cat-and-mouse points against the Serbian, Djokovic consistently found a way to win the big points. The World No. 1 increased his aggression in the second set and saved all three break points he faced.
Did You Know?
Djokovic now has a 260-140 record in tour-level tie-breaks (65%). The only player with a better winning percentage is Roger Federer (460-244, 65.3%).