US Open finalist Kevin Anderson takes on young gun Borna Coric with both men looking to reach their first ever semifinal at Masters 1000 level. Anderson, who is enjoying the best period of his career made back-to-back finals in New York and Acapulco, winning the first, and remains on course for a third in a row. For Coric it is a third Masters 1000 quarterfinal and a chance for an eighth top ten win. But who will come out on top?
Anderson and Coric have met three times previously, including twice in the United States. Their first match came in 2015 in Winston-Salem in the quarterfinals, with Anderson winning 6-2 7-6 and going on to lift the title (defeated Herbert). They met again later that year in Basel in the round of 32 with the South African again a straight sets winner, as he lost just five games. Their most recent meeting came in the third round of the US Open last year, which Anderson won comfortably 6-4 6-3 6-2.
Path to the quarterfinals
Anderson, seeded 7th in Indian Wells, began in the second round after receiving a bye. That saw him take on Evgeny Donskoy, who had upset his countryman Karen Khachanov in the previous round. But Anderson had too much for him as he won through in straight sets 7-5 6-4. He was again a straight sets winner against Nicolas Kicker of Argentina though he was pushed to two tiebreaks. He then defeated Pablo Carreno Busta in a rematch of their US Open semifinal, coming back from a set down to win in three 4-6 6-3 7-6.
Coric, unseeded in Indian Wells, opened against Donald Young of the USA. Young has been struggling for form all season, a fact not helped by a controversy he was involved in with Ryan Harrison, accusing Harrison of racially abusing him only for an investigation to find otherwise. Coric only added to his problems, routing him 6-0 6-2. Albert Ramos Vinolas offered little more resistance, as Coric again put in a dominant performance to defeat Ramos Vinolas 6-0 6-3.
Coric was similarly impressive against Roberto Bautista Agut, seeded 13th. The Spaniard came into the tournament in excellent form, having defeated Coric two weeks ago en route to winning the biggest title of his career in Dubai. But in Indian Wells, he couldn’t get close to the Croatian who lost just four games. That set up a match with California native, Taylor Fritz, who had shown some sparkling form and fight to reach the last 16. He fought hard against Coric, taking a set off him, but ultimately Coric’s greater experience and quality told as he edged out Fritz in three, 6-2 6-7 6-4.
How do they match up?
For Coric this match up will be about negating Anderson’s considerable power, off both the serve and the ground. So far he has been unable to do so. Although Coric is an excellent mover, certain areas of his game have been lacking, which is what separates him from the elite defenders in the game. One such area is his return game. Though he has been compared, including by himself, to Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, both are far more accomplished returners than him.
That is a weakness that has been exposed by Anderson in the past and the 6’8” South African will likely look to do so again. Coric is also not as adept at turning defence into attack as some, though he does defend well from the corners. The 21-year-old will have to play on the front foot as often as he can in this match. Anderson has the most solid groundstrokes of all the sport’s big men and if Coric attempts to grind him down, the likelihood is that it will instead allow Anderson to dictate proceedings.
However, the world #9 is not without weaknesses. Like most big men, he can struggle to get low to the ball, although his midcourt forehand has improved in recent years. He is particularly vulnerable to players going back behind him, as although he is fairly quick across the court and going forward, he struggles to change direction quickly. If Coric can utilise a good variety of spins and change direction, he could unsettle Anderson.
Anderson has won their previous three matches comfortably, and despite Coric’s good form this week, there appears little indication that his run against the Croatian will end. Anderson has more than enough power to hit through Coric and showed in the previous round against Carreno Busta that he has both the legs and the groundstrokes to endure long rallies of the type Coric is used to. Coric will likely put up more resistance than he has previously, but Anderson will come through all the same.
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