Borna Coric captures maiden Masters 1000 in Cincinnati
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The Croatian, who was competing in his first tour-level final since 2020, defeated Rafael Nadal en route to his second Masters 1000 final. With the pressure on, Coric demonstrated courage against the Greek, rallying from 1-4 in the first set, before he blitzed his way past the fourth seed in the second set to triumph after one hour and 57 minutes in Cincinnati.
Coric missed the majority of last season due to a shoulder injury and entered the Cincinnati draw with a protected ranking, sitting at No. 152 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. However, he is up to No. 29 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings following his fairytale run, while he has improved to 2-1 in his ATP Head2Head series against Tsitsipas.
“It was a very, very tough match. At the beginning, I wasn’t playing very well and he was pushing me very hard. But I started to serve better and play better and I was fighting hard,” Coric said in his on-court interview. “Then in the second set I thought I played the best set of the whole year.”
Coric dropped just one set during his run to the championship match in his sixth appearance at the hard-court event, also defeating Lorenzo Musetti, Nadal, Roberto Bautista Agut, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Cameron Norrie. The 25-year-old has now clinched three tour-level titles on all three surfaces, having soared to success on clay in Marrakech in 2017 and on grass at Halle in 2018.
“Thank you to my parents, who are not here, my sister and my team. It has been very tough for us,” Coric added during the trophy ceremony. “With my physio, if I didn’t have him I wouldn’t be on the court… Then of course to my tennis coach, Mate. We have been working very hard and now we are here.”
Tsitsipas flew out of the blocks in an enthralling first set as he opened his shoulders to race into a 4-1 lead. Coric showed signs of nerves in the opening exchanges but started to settle as the set went on. The Croatian began to find his spots on serve, while he hit with greater depth and pace off the ground to claw back to 4-4. With a tie-break left to decide the first set, it was Coric who raced into top gear, capitalizing on untimely errors from Tsitsipas to lead.
After hitting 18 winners in the opener, the 25-year-old continued to look comfortable at the start of the second set. Coric hit his water-tight groundstrokes with consistency on return and gained the decisive break in the sixth game of the set against a tiring Tsitsipas. The Croatian, who committed just 14 unforced errors, then fended off pressure from Tsitsipas when serving, before he broke again to earn the biggest win of his career.
Coric looked to step inside the baseline and attack Tsitsipas in the second set in a move that worked. As shown in his INSIGHTS: Conversion Score, the Croatian was clinical, holding a conversion rate of 87 percent, well above the 66 percent Tour average.
Prior to his shoulder surgery in May 2021, Coric had earned nine victories against Top 5 opponents and climbed to a career-high World No. 12. The Croatian made his comeback in Indian Wells in this March and had lost 8 of his 13 tour-level matches in 2022 before his dream run in Cincinnati.
Tsitsipas was aiming to capture his third Masters 1000 title and 10th tour-level trophy. The Greek, who retained the title in Monte Carlo in April, edged Daniil Medvedev in a hard-fought semi-final win and is up to No. 5 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.
The 24-year-old has also risen to second in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin as he looks to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for a fourth consecutive season. He lifted the trophy at the season finale on his debut in 2019.
Did You Know?
Coric is the first player to win a Masters 1000 title and an ATP Challenger Tour title in the same season since Mikael Pernfors in 1993. It’s only happened three times since ATP Masters 1000 debuted as a series in 1990 [also Thomas Muster 1992]. Coric won a Challenger Trophy in Parma, Italy, in June.
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