Facing the 20-time Major champion Roger Federer, the young Croat Borna Coric scored two wins in 2018. Borna overpowered Roger in Halle and Shanghai to claim the first ATP 500 title and advance into the first Masters 1000 final, holding nerves to leave a great rival behind.
Coric would love to meet Roger Federer in 2021 Wimbledon final, calling it his dream title match. Borna is aware that his chances are much higher at the other three Majors, but he would love to beat the eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger at the All England Club in a year.
Seeking the tenth crown in Halle, Roger Federer was the favorite against Borna Coric in 2018 despite not playing at his best in the previous rounds. Borna gave his best and prevailed 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 to claim his first ATP 500 title, heading to Halle with only two ATP wins on grass and leaving it with a notable trophy!
Borna became the sixth-youngest player with a win over Roger Federer on grass and the sixth who scored a triumph over the Swiss 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 controlled the pace with his first serve and the shortest rallies, forging a massive advantage over his opponent and winning eight points more. Also, Federer fired 70 winners in 97 points he won overall, combined with 40 errors.
Coric tamed his shots nicely, hitting 49 winners and spraying 27 mistakes to stay in touch with the Swiss and overpower him to celebrate one of the 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 suffering two breaks from three opportunities 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, a crucial part of the encounter. The youngster deserves credit for surviving all the challenges, finding his A-game after the second set to emerge as a deserved winner against the fiercest possible rival on this surface.
Roger fired 40 service winners and 30 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 a massive 21 points advantage in the winners department, making fewer unforced errors (17 to 19) and forcing Borna to battle hard in the area of the forced mistakes to gain some ground and cut the deficit if he wanted to stay competitive.
He did that in style, hitting only eight forced errors while Roger counted to 22, with the Swiss missing equally from both wings and not matching 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 exchanges shorter than nine strokes and Coric had to dig deep in the more advanced 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.
"My dream final would be at Wimbledon, beating Roger Federer for the title. Hopefully, it can happen next year. Out of all four Majors, my chances are lowest at Wimbledon as I'm not among the best players on grass. Still, that's my wish and I will keep dreaming," Borna Coric said.