Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Wk.15- Coric Borna 'gain

Hey, all. Galileo here.

It is not every week there is a first on BACKSPIN. No, we aren't talking about Marketa 'Please Make a Pun Out of My Name' Vondrousova. We are talking about our very own Borna Coric. But, hey, why don't we ask him. Did you know he can speak two languages? Or, for the more cynical amongst you, he is a very competent user of Google translate.

This is a kid we have been waiting for...oh for such an age, for so many years. We waited for Kei Nishikori and he turned out to be a dud. For all the hype he has only delivered a third of what he could have. We have waited, and are still waiting, for Grigor Dimitrov. We thought Bernie Tomic and Nicky Kyrgios were the answer. They still have time.

It feels like Coric has always been there, just not quite able to go from there to here. He has only two third round appearances at a slam, at the 2015 and '16 French Open. Reaching the third round of a slam aged eighteen is remarkable. As we've discussed this year, the Hingis', Nadals and Hewitts simply don't exist anymore.

Aged 19, he was the 33rd best player in the world. Everybody agreed this kid was going somewhere. But he regressed a little. He didn't give up, however. No, he came back and he has finally won his first title. It feels like he should be 25, not 20. Last year he helped Croatia get to the Davis Cup Final. He matured there, working with Cilic and the likes of Ivan Ljubicic. A heart-throb, in the way Nadal used to be, Borna is going to end up being very popular with the ladies. And some of the men, too. Yes, that is as risqué as Backspin gets. Did you enjoy that sudden raunch?

He made a final in 2016, his first. Wawrinka denied him in Chennai 6-3, 7-5. Delbonis and he met in the final of the Grand Prix Hassan last year. He lost badly, 6-4, 6-2. The shiniest moment in his career may have been in Cincinnati. He beat Benoit Paire in three, Nick Kyrgios in three and spanked Nadal 6-1, 6-3. Had he not retired injured against Cilic in the next round he could have gone all the way to the final.
But now he has won a title. So we can happily focus upon that.

* – David Ferrer rises a spot to 33. That is a sentence this BACKSPINNER never thought he would write. Simon is at 32 but is continuing to fall. Verdasco is at 31, while Kohl rises two places to 30.
* – Monfils falls five places. This means Dimitrov, Berdych and Goffin all rise a place. They are ranked 11-13. In 14th is Sock, who went up two places.
* – Monte Carlo was last week last year. So Nadal drops two places. He is in 7th. He is 400 above Cilic and Thiem, but 400 behind Raonic. Nishikori in 5th is only just above Raonic.
* – Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka and Federer round out the top four. Murray's ranking could be in danger if he has a bad eight weeks. Federer should move into the top three at some point. Also, put money on him playing either Rome or Madrid.

S: Borna Coric def. Phillip Kohlschreiber 5-7/7-6(3)/7-5
D: Inglot/Pavic d. Granollers/M.Lopez

S: Steve Johnson def. Thomaz Bellucci 6-4/4-6/7-6(5)
D: Peralta/Zeballos d. Brown/Tiafoe

...Coric, who beat Nadal in straight sets in Basel aged 17, has a very interesting rivalry with the Spaniard. He leads it 2-1, though Rafa won their only slam meeting; at the 2015 U.S. Open. This is the kind of rally they play:

Now you need to keep in your head that head-to-head while you read along. You shall see why soon. Coric opened with 7th seeded Schwartzman and won 6-3, 6-2. He beat El Amrani in a third set breaker in the next match. The Moroccan had won against defending champion Delbonis, via retirement, the round before. Next came the upset - the Croat beat Ramos-Vinolas 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. With the two and a half hour win he made his first semi-final since the year before. This is turning into his pet event. He handled Vesely 6-4, 6-4 in the semi to make it back-to-back finals at the event.

So there he is, in the final. But he blows the first set on a woeful error. He looked despondent. Kohlschreiber, having won the first 7-5, rose to a higher level in the second. It is rare in a match to be up a set and 3-1 and lose. From that position, in a three set match, you would win 70-75 per cent of the time. Especially if you are serving for 4-1. From there it is almost certain. Unless you are Jana Novotna. Because if you are, blowing 4-1 leads is your specialty.

Anyway, the German could not quite hold on. Fortunately, he had a chance to end the comeback at 5-7, 5-6, advantage Kohlschreiber. The youngster held firm, as the German's defensive shot went way long. He saved another with a stunning low volley. Coric rebounded and took the second set 7-3 in the breaker. The German had a break again in the third set but, like the previous times, lost it. This was turning into the match Kohl could not put away. When it came to it, however, the Croat could. And did. The man who has beaten Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal finally has his title. And now for my bold prediction. The next time he faces Rafa on clay he will take a set.

...Much like the Spanish inquisition, nobody saw Stevie-J a-coming. Seeded fourth, he opened his campaign against the delightfully ridiculous Dustin Brown. Everything about that man is either polite or insane. Or both. The British tennis organization, the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association), could have had him, but Germany won the bidding war. Anyway, Johnson beat him 7-6[12], 6-2. Now that may not be the 1980 Wimbledon final or that breaker Federer and Safin played, but 26 points is more than you need to win a set. Fortunately for the American it got a bit easier after that. He eased past Ferver 6-2, 6-4. Then a real test: top seeded Jack Sock. Sock took the first set 6-4. But when his serve crumbled at the tail end of the second set, it was clear the stress of three three-setters in three days was beginning to tell. Still, he managed to get out to a 3-1 lead in the final set. Johnson responded by ripping off five in a row to take it. In the final, he was crippled with cramps but held on to win 6-4, 4-6, 7-6[5]. So Stevie Johnson is up to 25 in the rankings, four places off his career best.
...The American is at a career high of 73. He has made one of his first -- this BACKSPINNER is reluctant to actually call it his first -- runs to the semi-final at any ATP event. He beat Tennys Sandgren, who you and I have never heard of, 6-3, 6-3 in the first round. He edged past Monteiro next, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Next he beat Isner in three breakers and you can read about that downstairs. In the semi-final he took the first set 7-5, but struggled to get a rhythm going on his serve and crumbled to a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 loss. But with every week a new career high, the future looks bright.

...Lopez is Federer's age, but with a backhand weaker than Trump's cabinet. He is still in the top 40. Do you know how incredible that is? The fact he is still out there winning matches, hitting those lovely shots, is a testament to longevity and the talent that some individuals in our sport have. He beat Bjorn Fratangelo 7-5, 6-4. He dispatched Chung 4-6, 6-2, 6-1. He gave Jack Sock everything he could handle in a 7-6[6], 1-6, 6-4 victory. Now that scoreline rings a bell...

The Spaniard and his compatriot Robredo are two sides of a coin. If they could only have combined their flair and consistency. Spain has, the last ten years, had an army the likes of which even Russian women could not compete with. But this is what happens when, after Bruguera, Berasategui, Costa, Moya, Corretja, Mantilla, Nadal, Verdasco, Ferrer, Robredo and Lopez there isn't a contingency plan. You read that list and it gets weaker as it goes on. What is Spain going to do now?
...Vesely's semi-final showing here is a very positive sign. It means his year is about to take off. Wins over Zverev and Lorenzi, the latter in three long sets, shows his lack of form and injuries may soon be a thing of the past.

...Enough is enough. There are no excuses for Isner to lose on American soil. That's where he is supposed to excel. In 1-7 years, only 13 times has there not been an American in the final of this event. Isner made back-back finals here in 2012-13. So there is not one good reason he shouldn't have made a run. He should have eased past Escobedo. The American now has to go to Europe. So there'll be nothing from him until July.

...The Spaniard roars again. Somehow you knew that Dimitrov was in trouble when he drew Tommy Robredo. As we know, the Spaniard is a former top five player. Top-five at the height of his powers, sure. But now? He still plays like it. The clay gives him a sort of special power that other surfaces don't. Using his protected ranking, he beat Stakhovsky 6-4, 6-4. He upset Dimitrov 6-4, 1-6, 6-1. And boy has the Bulgarian faded badly since the beginning of the year. His luck ran out against Paire, as he lost 6-2, 6-4. But this is still an encouraging run.

1. Marrakech Final – Coric d. Kohlschreiber 5-7, 7-6[3], 7-5
...Kohl's first final in a year ends in heartbreak. But how can you lead 7-5, 3-1 and lose? The German's whole career has always been just a shade off superb. He could have had a similar career to Youzhny's. He has the same set-up. But we were shwon here why he never carved out an awesome career.
2. Houston Final – Johnson d. Bellucci 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(5)
...The drama of a tiebreak. Breakers are a tennis match writ small. The difference is that being more aggressive is actually helpful in breakers. If you have to bet, put your money on Kuznetsova and Federer in breakers, not Wozniacki and Ferrer. The Brazilian led 1-0 but lost that advantage on a passing shot. Down 3-6, he hit two fabulous winners to erase them. Johnson made it three winners in a row on match point, however. The American was lucky it wasn't a five-setter. The cramps he had were vicious.
3. Houston QF - Escobedo d. Isner 7-6[6], 6-7[8], 7-6[5]
...Isner broke a tournament record by serving 35 aces in this match. It took an ace on the youngster's 7th match point to finally bring this match home. They both won under 30 per cent of return points and both went 7/8 on break points. This was a mental match. It took three hours and three minutes. On clay. In Houston. Sounds like hell. But, oh boy, is Isner in trouble.


Wawrinka [3] d. [1] Murray
Nadal [4] d. [13] Carreno Busta
Nadal [4] d. [3] Wawrinka

...Right now in the NBA playoffs the Celtics are the top seed. But somehow you just don't trust them and a bit of you is always waiting for the upset. It is like that with Murray and Djokovic right now. That problem is only exacerbated on clay. Oh, Nadal is here, too. Which makes it easier.

So, up next for our Dasha is the Fed Cup. Australia play Serbia for the right to stay in the World Grouping rather than fall back to their regional competition. It's in Serbia but, fortunately for our girl, Serbia are not the strength they used to be. The lineups are not confirmed yet.

After that the likely bet is Stuttgart. The other Dasha is playing there. So is Maria Sharapova.


Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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