ATP Cup Day 2 Notes

Borna Coric Vs Dominic Thiem is one of my favorite match ups on the ATP, and so I was not disappointed by their ATP Cup contest, won by Coric 7-6. 2-6, 6-3.

Thiem stands pretty much alone high up in the rankings for his age group. His generation have been sporadic in their successes- Pouille made the AO ’19 semis and Sock won Paris ’18, and Tomic’s best days were done before most of his gen got going, but it’s Thiem who has been leading the way week in and week out. Thiem is now banded with the successful Zverev-Medvedev-Tsitsipas NextGen group, and of that group, it is Coric who is closest to the Austrian in terms of both maturity and focus which is what draws me to this rivalry.

Coric and Thiem had very different 2019s. Thiem won his 1st ATP 1000 and made another RG final, while Coric, who made such strides in ’18, finishing it on the cusp of the top 10, lost his last 6 matches of ’19 and finished it ranked 28.

A new season is a great chance for players to press the reset button, and Coric did just that. He pressed the rewind button, too, going back to 2018, a season which saw him play such great matches as his Halle final win, and his matches in Indian Wells versus Anderson and Federer.

Twice that year, he also went the distance with Thiem, in Paris and Madrid, losing both matches. Thiem led the head to head 3-1 going into this ATP encounter, and Coric’s sole win in Miami ’17, a straight sets affair, was a text book example of how a consistent and mentally tough player can draw a bigger hitting careless one into an erratic display. Big hitters are my thing, but I love to see intelligent dismantling of brainless ball-bashing (Thiem, to his credit, has come a long way since those baffling displays) especially when done in such humble and focused style as Coric’s.

This match, Coric went about his smart point construction, going for some shots, too, to keep things less predictable, and employed all his grit and determination to keep a fighting Thiem at bay in the first and third sets. There was plenty of positive body language, too, heart thumping, some finger wagging. Seeing off Thiem in three sets, and prevailing in that fifteen minute game in the third, deserves nothing less.

Other highlights of the day were:

  • The final stages of the Nadal-Basilashvili contest. Watching Basilashvili in full flow is one of my favorite tennis sights. He made a nice attempt at a come back in the second set, which he did not pull off, the breathtaking winners balanced out by groaning errors. Still, when Basilashvili powers away at the ball, I live a little and all is forgiven.
  • Novak Djokovic’s reaction to the Anderson win. If I was a Djokovic rival for the AO title, I would do what ever I could to avoid seeing that reaction. Djokovic looks ravenous which is always bad news for his rivals around slam time.
  • Hurkacz’s defeat of Schwartzman, another positive step for the Polish player. Watching Schwartzman is always entertaining, watching Hurkacz getting on with the job against such a competitor is reassuring.

Day 2 didn’t have quite the impact on me that day 1 had, but there was still enough there to keep me entertained and I can’t ask for much more than a potential top ten match of the season on any given day of the year.

Grade B

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Christian Deverille

Christian Deverille is a tennis writer with a diploma in Freelance Sports Writing from the London School of Journalism. He loves all things tennis, most of all the Federer and del Potro forehands.

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