At 21 years old, Borna Coric was already up to 12th in the rankings and seemingly on the fast track to the top five.
Injuries had other ideas, though, and the worst one of his career kept him out for 13 months from February 2021 until March 2013. Just now coming back from shoulder surgery, Coric finds himself down at No. 152 in the world. Prior to the Western & Southern Open, he had won only four of 12 matches at the ATP level this season.
With the work he has been putting in, however, it was only a matter of time before his form–and his results–returned.
Both of those have come swiftly and suddenly in Cincinnati. The 25-year-old is into his second Masters 1000 final after taking out Lorenzo Musetti, Rafael Nadal, Roberto Bautista Agut, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Cameron Norrie. Coric did not lose a set to any of those opponents except Nadal, and since dropping the second to the Spaniard he has won seven consecutive sets without even being pushed to a tiebreaker.
He has, quite simply, been the best player in the entire Cincinnati field.
“I really find that that’s the only explanation which I have–is I was really, really working very hard in the last six months,” Coric explained. “Because I knew I needed to come back. I think once you are in the top 20 or in top 30 or somewhere where you want to be, you can get a little bit sloppy and maybe get away with it. But once you fall down the rankings, No 200…or I don’t know where I was…. But I knew I needed to work probably three times harder than I used to work. And that’s what I did.
“For the last six months I was really focused. I kept my head down even when I was losing and when I was not playing very good tennis. So I think that’s the key, and then obviously you need to be lucky a little bit, as well. I believe that you create your own luck.
“I do feel great,” Coric added after beating Norrie 6-3, 6-4 on Saturday night. “Also a little bit tired, to be honest. But that’s normal. I didn’t play many finals in the last three years, so I’m just very happy to be here. I [am] super happy to be here and to play a tournament and to compete against top guys.”
He has one more chance on Sunday.