Coric Saves 5 M.P., Completes Stunning Comeback For Maiden Title
Comeback of the year? Borna Coric would think so. The #NextGenATP star completed a magical rally to take his maiden ATP World Tour title on Sunday at the Grand Prix Hassan II.
Coric overcame third seed Philipp Kohlschreiber 5-7, 7-6(3), 7-5 for the Marrakech crown, storming back from a break down in both the second and third sets and saving five championship points in dramatic fashion.
Coric is the third player from the current #NextGenATP contingent to lift an ATP World Tour trophy, joining Alexander Zverev (St. Petersburg 2016 & Montpellier 2017) and Karen Khachanov (Chengdu 2016). Runner-up in Marrakech last year, the Croatian fired 10 aces to defeat Kohlschreiber after two hours and 38 minutes. It was the longest final on the ATP World Tour this year.
"I would say that's my biggest comeback, I've never saved five match points," said Coric. "Especially in such an important match, I served very well in the big points. It's an awesome feeling. I didn't know what to expect when I came here and I wasn't in the best shape. But I've been working very hard the past three or four months and now it's paying off."
Match Points Saved En Route To Title In 2017
|Victor Estrella Burgos
||2R & F
Coric and Kohlschreiber took to the Royal Tennis Club on a sun-kissed afternoon in the Moroccan metropolis. The Munich native stepped up the pressure as the first set reached the business end, breaking for a 7-5 lead behind a bevy of deep and heavy returns. And he carried the momentum into the second set, extending his lead with an immediate break for 2-0.
Kohlschreiber reeled off five straight games, consolidating for 3-0, but it was Coric who would begin to plot the stunning comeback, drawing level and later denying five championship points while serving to stay in the match at 6-5. Exhibiting his steely resolve, he punched a dipping volley winner to turn aside the second match point and later fired a clutch service winner to deny the fifth.
Coric would take the ensuing tie-break and forced a decider in impressive fashion. Kohlschreiber matched his mettle in the third set, converting a break for 3-1, but it was the young Croatian who eventually navigated to the finish line, breaking back and once again cracking his opponent's serve at 6-5 for the victory.
Recipient of the 2014 ATP Star of Tomorrow Award, presented by Emirates, Coric earns 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points and €85,945 in prize money. He notched his first win over Kohlschreiber in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, following a pair of defeats in Dubai and Monte-Carlo last year. The Zagreb native, who is projected to soar from eighth to second place in the Emirates ATP Race To Milan, is in firm contention to punch his ticket for the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals.
The third first-time winner on the ATP World Tour this year, joining Gilles Muller (Sydney) and Ryan Harrison (Memphis), Coric is also the sixth player to win a title after saving match point during the tournament. In fact, he turned aside the most match points in a final since Andy Murray also denied five for the Valencia crown in 2014 (d. Robredo).
Kohlschreiber, meanwhile, was bidding for his eighth ATP World Tour crown in his 16th final. He earns 150 Emirates ATP Rankings points and €45,265 in prize money. The German was vying to become the fourth player aged 33 & older to win on the circuit this year.
"It's one of those days where you have many good opportunities," said Kohlschreiber, who endured match point heartbreak for the second time this year, after squandering seven chances to close out Andy Murray in the Dubai semi-finals. "It was a big fight and great drama in the end. Losing a match with match points and to be so close to the title is always very difficult. But it was a very good week for me. I played great tennis this week and I'm looking forward to more clay-court matches."