The seventh time was a charm for Borna Coric, and because of that, his country's first time in the ATP Cup was one to fondly remember.
After Croatia's Marin Cilic squeaked by Austria's Dennis Novak in a tighter-than-expected ATP Cup opening rubber in Sydney, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4, Dominic Thiem fell to a fit and fresh Borna Coric, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-3. The Croat snapped a six-match losing streak dating back to Zhuhai in September.
After dropping the first set in a tiebreak, Cilic found his form and proved too consistent for the world No. 108—who also happens to be Thiem’s best friend.
With a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three match format, Coric prevailed in the opening set to move Croatia closer to victory. But Thiem blitzed to a 6-2 second-set victory and appeared to be in full control. However, Coric was able to fend off the world No. 4 with punishing groundstrokes to win the court-positioning battle. By the match's end, Thiem was playing from far beyond the baseline as the 23-year-old absorbed the Austrian's pace and redirected his shots with conviction.
Even though [I lost] the second set, I felt I was playing good tennis, honestly," said Coric. "It's just that he was playing too good. And then in the third set, I just found that on important points I was playing really brave, and in the end it paid off."
The Croatian squad is a heavy favorite to defeat Poland on Sunday night.