Heading to Buenos Aires for the first time this week, Borna Coric opted to embrace the February clay swing instead of staying in Europe and compete indoor. The Croat lost in the second round to Thiago Monteiro in straight sets, losing edge in the pivotal moments and heading to Rio de Janeiro where he hopes for a deeper run and some points on his tally.
Speaking for La Nacion in Buenos Aires, Borna covered many aspects of his game, past results and plans, mentioning one of his most notables victories against Roger Federer in Halle 2018. Despite winning eight points less than Roger, Borna prevailed 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 to claim his first ATP 500 title, heading to Halle with only two ATP wins on grass!
Borna became the sixth-youngest player who defeated Roger Federer on grass and the sixth who scored a win over him in a grass-court final, after Rafael Nadal, Lleyton Hewitt, Tommy Haas, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic. It was a severe loss for Roger who won eight points more than Borna and controlled the pace with his first serve and also in the shortest rallies where he had a clear edge over his rival.
Besides, Federer fired no less than 70 winners in 97 points won overall, combined with 40 errors. Coric managed to tame his shots nicely, hitting 49 winners and spraying just 27 mistakes to stay in touch with the Swiss and overpower him in the decider to celebrate one of his career-best wins.
Federer won 33% of the return points but not the ones that mattered the most, converting one of four break chances and getting broken twice from three chances offered to Borna. Federer was the dominant figure in the opening two sets, dropping just 12 points on serve and keeping the pressure on Coric, including three set points in the opener that proved to be the crucial part of the encounter.
We have to give credit to the youngster for surviving all the challenges in the opener and finding his A-game after that second set, saving the best for the last and emerging as a deserved winner against the toughest possible rival on this surface.
Roger fired 40 service winners and 30 more from the court, most from his volley and forehand. Borna did his best to stay aggressive and not let Federer dictate the points, landing 28 unreturned serves and 21 winners from the court, including ten from his forehand that worked like a charm.
Roger built 21 points advantage in the winners department and made fewer unforced errors (17 to 19), forcing Borna to give his best in the forced errors to make some ground and cut the deficit if he wanted to stay competitive.
He did that in the best possible style, hitting just eight forced mistakes while Roger counted to 22, missing equally from both wings and not being able to match the rival's pace from the baseline in those points, especially in the more extended exchanges.
Federer had the upper hand in the shortest points up to four strokes (67-52), mainly thanks to those service winners, and a 24-20 advantage in the mid-range rallies from five to eight strokes. It gave him an enormous 91-72 lead in the points shorter than nine strokes and Coric had to dig deep in the more challenging rallies to bypass that shortage, winning 17 of the 23 longest points to hang in and forge his triumph after a brilliant performance in the final set.
"Honestly, I didn't see the match against Roger too many times; only highlights with the best points. I don't usually watch my matches, especially the ones I won; I don't feel I can learn from those encounters.
On the other hand, I look at the ones I lost; I have to study those closely to learn from my mistakes. But, of course, it was a magical moment to beat Roger in Halle, world no. 1 on his dominant surface."