Coric's Resurgence: "There Is No Magic Light"
As a former junior World No. 1 and going on to stand on the cusp of the Top 30 at age 18, the hype surrounding Borna Coric is to be expected. That career-high in the ATP Rankings, though, was July 2015.
His transition since, has hit more than its share of hurdles. But a complete change-up in his team and a realigned attitude to improvement has the 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier making inroads once more.
In six sets played in the desert at the BNP Paribas Open, the Croatian has dropped just nine games, fewer than any player in the top half of the draw. For the second match in succession the 21-year-old trounced a seeded Spaniard – this time last week’s winner in Dubai, Roberto Bautista Agut, 6-1, 6-3.
“I was playing even better and better and today until 6-1, 3-0 - I was playing maybe the best tennis of my life,” Coric admitted. “I was just playing very aggressively, putting constant pressure on him, but at the same time I wasn’t making mistakes.”
That change in team involved a complete overhaul with the experienced Riccardo Piatti joining Kristijan Schneider as his new coaches, Roger Federer’s coach Ivan Ljubicic coming into the fold as manager.
“I felt like I needed a change,” Coric said. “Some kind of different, not only coach, but manager, the fitness coach, the physio. I spoke a lot to Ivan and to Riccardo before we started working. We had a great off-season. We had a great few weeks after Australia.
“Again, I need to improve. I have time. Kristijan is like a second coach. I look at it as a team. No one is head coach… If we have a big decision to make we always talk all together. We see who has better ideas.
“Ivan kind of watches everything from a different angle and from time to time gives a different opinion and checks I’m on the right path. We see each other very often when I’m in Monte Carlo.”
While the changes appear to be reaping rewards in the Californian desert, Coric is staying grounded. He is all too aware, one flash-in-the-pan result does not constitute a long-term breakthrough.
“There is no magic light. OK, I’m playing well here but it doesn’t mean I’m going to be Top 10 in a few months,” he said. “We need to work in three, four years to become a Top 10 tennis player, that’s my goal.
“I had very big success when I was very young. Also that time I was No. 33 [in the ATP Rankings] but my game level was not there. If I see myself now to when I was 18 – when I was No.33 – you cannot compare the two players. I’m a much better player now.”