Borna Coric first burst onto the scene as a teenage sensation tipped by many to be the next big thing in tennis.
At the age of 19, he became the youngest player to finish the 2015 season inside the world’s top 50 on the ATP Pepperstone rankings. The following year he became the youngest player in eight years to contest a World Tour Final and the youngest in a decade to reach a Masters 1000 quarter-final in Madrid.
Over the coming years, Coric has won three ATP titles so far in his career with the most prestigious occurring this summer at the Cincinnati Masters. He has also reached the final of another five tournaments, as well as the quarter-finals of the 2020 US Open.
There have also been challenges for the Croat throughout his career. A troublesome shoulder issue resulted in him undergoing surgery and missing 12 months of the Tour between 2021-2022. Despite the setback, he was determined to return to action as soon as he was able to.
“I just like tennis and I want to compete with the guys on the Tour. I like my lifestyle,” he said during a interview with Ubitennis in Tokyo.
“This was my main motivation, I knew I could come back and I just needed to work hard.”
Since starting his comeback from injury, the 25-year-old has won 16 matches against 10 losses on the Tour. Besides Cincinnati, he also reached the quarter-finals of the Hamberg Open and won a Challenger tournament in Italy. Slowly making progress towards a place inside the top 20 once again, Coric admits that he still has some pain in his shoulder but it is something he has grown accustomed to.
“There are going to be times when my shoulder is going to be hurting a little bit. I know I can not injure it more, it’s just going to be hurting a little bit and then the next morning it’s going to be aching. That’s pretty much it,” he explains.
“The only thing which I need to deal with is the pain. It is not going to get worse and I can’t damage anything. It is just going to be there sometimes.’
“As long as it’s not too often and like it was before I had surgery, it’s fine.”
Playing the Big Four, love for Wimbledon
Whilst he is yet to crack the top 10, Coric is one of a few players who has beaten three members of the Big Four multiple times in his career. He leads Rafael Nadal 3-2 in their head-to-head and has beaten both Andy Murray and Roger Federer twice. The only member of the group he is yet to get the better of is Novak Djokovic who he has lost to in all four of their encounters.
Nevertheless, Nadal and Djokovic remain the players to beat in Grand Slam events. Between them, they have won three out of the four Grand Slams this year. Carlos Alcaraz won the US Open.
“Back then it was mostly physical and also a bit of the mental side,” Coric said of the last time he played a member of the Big Four at a major.
“At the end of the day I haven’t played against them for a very long time in the Grand Slams so let’s see what happens next time. Maybe I play better, maybe I play worse. I’m not sure. I think I’m better physically than in 2015/2016 but you never know.”
Interestingly when it comes to Coric’s favourite Grand Slam and surface, his answer comes as a surprise to some. As a junior, he won the US Open boy’s title and the tournament is where he achieved his best result on a professional level. However, it is another tournament which he has labelled as the most special.
“It will probably be Wimbledon just because of the grass. It’s very special but probably the least chance I have of winning (out of the Grand Slams) because I am not as good on grass as the other surfaces and I didn’t play Wimbledon for the last three years. At the same time, it’s my favourite tournament and it has been my dream to win since I was a kid.” He said.
Coric has only ever won one match at Wimbledon but he hasn’t played there since 2018.
The last Croat to reach the final at SW19 was Marin Cilic in 2017 who has been somewhat of an Achilles heel for Coric over the years. He has a losing 0-8 record against Cilic who is almost nine years older than him.
“He just knows my game very well. Two times I felt like I was very close, I was unlucky. The other six times he was just playing great.” Coric said of his compatriot.
“When he plays at his best he’s right up there as the top five in the world.
“He’s my very good friend and we live in the same building and train a lot together.”
The full interview between Coric and Andras Ruszanov can be listened to below.
Alexander Zverev Deserves More Respect According To Boris Becker
According to Boris Becker, Alexander Zverev deserves more respect from tennis journalists.
Boris Becker has claimed that Alexander Zverev deserves more respect despite Zverev failing to live up to his potential at Grand Slams.
Zverev has only reached one Grand Slam final in his career despite being a regular inside the world’s top ten as well as performing at regular ATP events.
This season Zverev played a limited schedule after recovering from an ankle injury but still managed to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals.
However most critics have been loud when judging Zverev’s career as it was looking likely that he would be a regular Grand Slam champion.
The German has failed to live up to expectations but former Grand Slam champion Boris Becker believes Zverev deserves more respect.
Speaking to Eurosport Becker also said that Zverev’s father being the coach is a more than successful approach when it comes to the former US Open finalist’s career, “In my opinion, he doesn’t get enough respect from the tennis experts internationally,” Becker explained.
“They’re all talking about the young three or four, but don’t give Zverev, Medvedev or Rublev enough respect. He’s playing with his fist in his pocket a little bit, wants everyone show that he is not a thing of the past, but that his best time is yet to come.
“Surely his father knows best what is good for his son, but if you look into the box at the competition, you can also see changes.”
Becker has followed Zverev for most of his career so knows that the best is yet to come from the German.
Alexander Zverev will look to prove himself next season when he starts his 2024 season when he represents Germany at the United Cup.
Juan Carlos Ferrero Analyses Key Areas For Carlos Alcaraz’s Development
Juan Carlos Ferrero has outlined the next steps in Carlos Alcaraz’s development.
Carlos Alcaraz’s coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero has analysed the key areas for the Spaniard’s development heading into the 2024 season.
The former world number one’s season has come to an end after a successful year which saw him win the Wimbledon title as well as winning two Masters 1000 titles.
Alcaraz capped off an incredible season by reaching the semi-finals at the Nitto ATP Finals, where he lost to Novak Djokovic.
However there is a long way for the Spaniard to go if he wants to consistently go toe-to-toe with Novak Djokovic.
Speaking to Marca Alcaraz’s coach Juan Carlos Ferrero spoke about the Spaniard’s development and said that Alcaraz is too emotional, “Be more regular in games, not open doors. Sometimes there are mistakes and it is something that we have to improve a lot,” Ferrero commented.
“Although it is true that he opens doors, he always competes well and at the highest level. He knows it, the other day he already said that Novak doesn’t give you one. He has to improve his decision making and he will achieve that with experience. Carlos is very emotional and that sometimes helps him and other times not so much.”
It’s clear Alcaraz’s high-quality is there but to consistently do it against Djokovic is another task altogether as the Spaniard looks to go from strength-to strength next season.
One area that is clearly a priority for Alcaraz is physical conditioning especially considering what happened against Djokovic at Roland Garros earlier in the season.
Ferrero said that will be a clear focus heading into 2024 but couldn’t guarantee that Alcaraz will play a tournament before the Australian Open, “Because of the year and the fatigue he has been in, what he needs is rest and disconnecting for 8-10 days with his friends,” Ferrero stated.
“From there, the thinking must go back to working really hard, strong and well to start very strongly in Australia. One can never be sure of that. Sometimes you play a tournament and it doesn’t go well, you left home too early. There are many ways of thinking.
“This year we haven’t played Australia and he finishes number two. That means there is no urgency to play a tournament early. Carlos is a player who enters competition quickly, you don’t usually see him without rhythm.
“Although it is true that he becomes more dangerous from the round of 16, from the quarter-finals. I am confident that the two exhibition matches and the training sessions will help us play a good tournament.”
Alcaraz will be looking to play the Australian Open which starts on the 15th of January after the Spaniard missed last year’s tournament due to a leg injury.
Australian Open Chief Confident Nadal Will Play But Kyrgios’ Participation Uncertain
The tournament director of the Australian Open says he is ‘certain’ that Rafael Nadal will play at the Grand Slam even though the Spaniard has yet to outline his comeback plans.
Craig Tiley told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday he hopes to receive some clarity over Nadal’s intentions in the next couple of weeks but is confident he will play. However, the tennis official had previously claimed in October that the former world No.1 had already committed to play in the event before his team denied that statement.
Nadal, who has won 22 Grand Slam titles, hasn’t played a Tour match since his second round defeat at the Australian Open in January due to a hip injury. He was originally expecting to take an eight-week break but the recovery didn’t go to plan and he ended up having surgery. In May he confirmed that he will take an extended break from the sport to heal his body and admitted that retirement next year is a possibility.
“Rafa has been training, I follow him closely, probably every day because he’s a massive drawcard for us,” the Reuters News Agency quoted Tiley as saying.
“He wants to play, he’s obviously planning on playing. It all depends on how he pulls up.
“Hopefully in the next week or the next two weeks, we get some specific confirmation of that. I’m certain Rafa will be here because he’s not going to want to miss the opportunity to repeat what he did a couple of years ago.”
Earlier this month Nadal confirmed that he intends to return to the Tour but admits that he will continue to experience a degree of pain. Although he has yet to give any information about which tournament he will begin his comeback at. The 2024 season begins during the first week of January.
“I’m well, training, and happy. I’m at a good stage of my life,” atptour.com quoted Nadal as telling reporters in Barcelona.
“Until now I didn’t know if I would play tennis again someday, and now I genuinely believe I will. I’m still not ready to say when, but I’m able to train increasingly longer, and the progress is good.’
Will Kyrgios play?
Another player Tiley is eager to welcome back is home player and former Wimbledon Finalist Nick Kyrgios who has only played one Tour-level match this season due to injury. He underwent knee surgery in January and then tore a ligament in his wrist during the summer. As a result, the Australian currently doesn’t have an ATP ranking due to his inactivity.
“We have spoken to Nick, and he obviously wants to do the best he possibly can to give him the best chance to play in January,” Tiley said of Kyrgios.
“Whether he’s playing, whether he’s doing something else, Nick will be here in January and to get him to play will be great. But we’ve got to take it as it comes and he’s got to make sure he takes care of his health …”
Kyrgios recently worked as an analyst for the Tennis Channel during this year’s ATP Finals in Turin and gave a brief update on his ongoing recovery during a segment.
“After last year, I had such a great year, and I’m so hungry to get back out there,” the 2022 Wimbledon finalist commented.
“So I’m doing everything I can to get back out there. Obviously, you know how injuries are every day, just doing the rehab, doing the gym work.”
The Australian Open will begin on Sunday 14th January. Novak Djokovic and Aryna Sabalenka are the defending champions.
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