The days of mentioning Alexander Zverev as an underachiever at Grand Slams are quickly coming to a close. The German, who prior to this year's Australian Open had never made it past the fourth round at any hard court major, could find himself back in the semifinals with a win over Borna Coric.
Though Zverev is a sizeable favorite heading into his quarterfinal matchup, he has struggled mightily against Coric in the past, and owns a 1-3 head-to-head record against the supremely fit Croatian. Coric won their most recent encounter at Halle in 2018, 6-1, 6-4, and defeated Zverev at the 2017 US Open 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (4).
If Zverev is on, and his second service yips remain dormant (Zverev recorded 18 aces to just two double faults against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina), he should outclass Coric with his range and firepower from both wings. But, oftentimes Zverev struggles when he’s forced to create his own pace, especially from his forehand wing. Players who don’t beat themselves, much like Coric, force Zverev to think his way through the match, as opposed to simply reacting and using his incredible physical gifts and ball striking ability.
But so far, the tennis-centric nature of the US Open bubble has helped Zverev remain focused.
“All you have is tennis and the bubble, so you can’t really get away from it,” Zverev said on Friday. “You can’t really have a fresh mind like you do at other tournaments.”
Coric, who is playing with house money after saving six match points against Stefanos Tsitsipas, blitzed through an overmatched Jordan Thompson 7-5, 6-1, 6-3 to reach his first ever Grand Slam quarterfinal.
Zverev almost always owns the better backhand when he steps on the court, but that might not be the case on Tuesday, and hasn’t been the case in three of their previous four matchups. Zverev’s serious advantage on serve should help push him through to the semifinal, but it’s safe to expect the unexpected at this year’s US Open.
The Pick: Alexander Zverev