Borna Coric: Former rising star looks to fulfill potential

Ahead of the NextGen Finals in Milan RealSport profiles the contenders for the inaugural trophy. Amongst them is Croatia's Borna Coric.


A rising star just a few years ago, Borna Coric was a name many people saw as a surefire future star of the game. A former world #1 Junior, he made his name on the Futures circuit before finally trying his hand on the main Tour. Bursting onto the scene at a young age, his performances as a 17-year-old against superstar names such as Nadal and Murray saw him shoot up the rankings at an incredible rate. While his career has stalled somewhat of late, he is still a danger when on his game.

Career highlights so far

Borna Coric made his Tour debut in 2013 at the tender age of 16. After a successful junior career, in which he won the 2013 US Open there was a lot of talk about whether the young Croatian could cut it on the main Tour. A decent Davis Cup performance against Andy Murray opened a lot of people’s eyes and his career picked up from there. Slowly rising up the rankings over the next couple of years, Coric really made his name when he reached the semifinals of his first ATP 500 event in Basel. Getting his first top 20 win over Gulbis in the first round was impressive enough. But he then truly shocked the world by defeating Nadal in straight sets before a close semifinal loss to David Goffin. 

His run in Switzerland pushed him into the world’s top 100 for the first time and he won the ATP Star of Tomorrow award for being the youngest player to make the top 100. Borna Coric had arrived. He followed this up in 2014 with another ATP 500 semifinals run in Dubai, this time accounting for Andy Murray in straight sets for the loss of only four games. Ending the year at 44th, it seemed he was on the verge of joining the sport’s biggest name at the very top.

Things haven’t quite worked out that way though. Inconsistencies have plagued his career since, and it wasn’t until this year that he won his first title on the clay courts of Marrakesh. He equalled his best performance at a Slam by reaching the third round in New York, a run that included beating pre-tournament favourite Zverev in the second round. But since then his performances have again tailed off. He has won only two matches across the six events he has played. Yet, while he doesn’t into Milan in the best of form, when it comes to Borna Coric you never quite know what you will get. Able to turn it on and beat the best of them, perhaps he will prove to be the man to beat in Milan.

Rivalries

While Coric doesn’t have any obvious rivalries as such, he does have multiple big wins over both Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal. Losing his first match to Murray as a 16-year-old, he has gone on to beat him twice, both in straight sets. The most recent win came in Madrid this year for the loss of only four games. His matches against Nadal have been very similar. He, in fact, won his first encounter with the King of Clay, although he then lost in the first round of the 2015 US Open. He again took the lead in their head-to-head with another straight-sets win over the Spaniard in Cincinnati last year. Nadal evened the score this year with a straight-sets demolition of Coric in Montreal. At two wins apiece with two of the biggest names in the sport, Coric has shown he can hold his own with the best of the best.

Playing style

A powerful defensive baseliner, the Croatian likes to engage in long rallies that help him wear his opponents down. With a strong two-handed backhand and great movement around the court, he is able to run down any ball while also being able to bring out a bit of flair from time to time.  A decent server at best, his biggest problem this season seems to be his return of serve. Winning only 25% of points on his opponents serve and only 18% of the games this is certainly something he has to look at if he is ever going to get to the next level. He has been compared with the great Novak Djokovic by both himself and others. But the Serbian would never stand for such low numbers on the return. Coric has proven by his many wins against top ten players that he has the game to beat anyone on his day. It just seems that his day doesn’t happen as often as it should.

Career Statistics

Australian Open: first round 2015, 2016, 2017 (lost to Dolgopolov)

French Open: third round 2015, 2016 (lost to Bautista Agut)

Wimbledon: second round 2015 (lost to Seppi)

US Open: third round 2017 (lost to Anderson)

How far do you think Coric can go in Milan? Let us know in the comments below!

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