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Beginner's Guide: Borna Coric looks to follow-up Cincinnati crown with US Open statement
The Croat's best Grand Slam run came at Flushing Meadows two years ago. With his biggest title in hand, is the 25-year-old ready to go deeper?
Published Aug 30, 2022
With a resurgent title run at the Western & Southern Open, Borna Coric suddenly solidified himself as a US Open dark horse after years of injuries and unfulfilled promise.
But how did he get to this point? Our Beginner’s Guide:
Coric had plenty to show for himself by the time he turned 21. Among the highlights included amassing 12 Top 10 victories—including two apiece against Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer—and peaking at No. 12 in the ATP rankings. Translating that over to the Grand Slam stage initially proved difficult, but in 2020, he reached his first quarterfinal thanks to a gusty comeback at the US Open. In the third round, he saved six match points to topple Stefanos Tsitsipas, 7-6 (4) in the fifth.
Decimated By A Shoulder Injury
Hopes of building on that New York moment were short-lived. In March 2021, Coric progressed to the semifinals in Rotterdam. It would be his last time on a match court for the next 12 months. By the summer, he went under the knife to address an ongoing problem with his right shoulder. The Zagreb native documented his journey back with us in March, sharing, "I looked at a big picture rather than a small picture and decided to do really good rehab, take my time."
Once back, Coric’s big-picture mindset was put to the test when he began with a 4-8 record in tour-level competition. The turning point came in June, when he stepped down to a Challenger in Montechiarugolo-Parma, leaving not only with the title but also a Top 200 return. After withdrawing from Wimbledon, Coric later reached the quarterfinals in Hamburg, the first time he posted back-to-back wins on the ATP Tour since returning.
Coming off a routine defeat to countryman Marin Cilic in Montréal, there weren’t many signs—if any—pointing to a magical run at his next stop. But with Kings Island next door, rides are a trademark of the Cincinnati-area event, and boy did he take us on one.
Nearly down a double break to start against Lorenzo Musetti, Coric eventually grabbed control to book a showdown with Nadal. Playing under the lights, the 25-year-old prevailed, 6-3 in their decider to oust the lefty for the third time in five meetings. From there, everyone raised their hands: Coric rode out a maiden Masters 1000 triumph in style with straight-set wins against Roberto Bautista Agut, Félix Auger-Aliassime, Cameron Norrie and Stefanos Tsitsipas, rocketing up a massive 123 spots to No. 29.
Plus, His Twitter Game Has Been On Point
We’re just gonna leave this here:
Flushing Meadows Follow-Up?
When the men’s draw came out, it didn’t take long to spot where Coric landed. The in-form contender is seeded to meet world No. 4 Carlos Alcaraz for the first time, but before that can happen, there is work to be done. While his first round shouldn’t prove troublesome, a matchup with 193rd-ranked Enzo Couacaud, Coric knows better than anyone right now numbers besides names aren’t everything. His second-rounder may provide a tougher test if Coric were to meet Jenson Brooksby, whose unorthodox style led to a fourth-round effort here a year ago.
"I've played on the tour for a long time already, and I know that in the tournament I cannot take much days off in my head in terms of, you know, 'I'm going to enjoy this win now for two days and I'm going to be relaxed and everything is good, I'm happy,'" he said in Cincy.
"I think I kind of learned that on the hard way, because I was doing those mistakes when I was younger where I would beat some good players, and then, you know, I would just go in the holiday mode."
With a deep run in New York, he'll have earned that holiday—and then some—after what would truly be a summer to remember.