© Getty Images

Borna Coric celebrates his second win in as many FedEx ATP Head2Head encounters with Alexander Zverev.

Coric Claims #NextGenATP Battle Over Zverev

German's defeat leaves No.5 seed Marin Cilic as highest seed in bottom half

The #NextGenATP bragging rights belong to Borna Coric after the Croat’s upset of No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev in the second round of the US Open on Wednesday. In the battle of the 20-year-old former junior rivals, Coric retained his unbeaten record against the German with a 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(1), 7-6(4) upset on Grandstand.

“Of course I needed it … I had a rough few months,” Coric said. “I was struggling with my neck injury. I was not really sure what it is. I didn't play ... So it does mean a lot definitely. It's going to give me some extra confidence. But at the end of the day, it's only a tennis match. [In a] day and a half I have another one. We will see.”

Coric had beaten Zverev as 16 year olds in the 2013 US Open boys’ singles semi-finals and as 18 year olds at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati in 2015. Coming into Wednesday’s match, Zverev was sitting at a career-high No. 6 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, having claimed his fifth title of the season at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal. Coric was ranked No. 61, having claimed his first ATP World Tour title earlier in the season in Marrakech.


“I mean, it's that NextGen thing the ATP is promoting, also what we are promoting,” Coric said. “I think it's actually quite cool. I think it does help us, as well, to put us on the map.

“I don't see it as a big rivalry. I think we all have our paths, our careers. We need to go in our way. I'm trying not to look at the other guys. Trying to look at myself, to improve my game, to improve my tennis.”

After dropping serve at 2-3 in the opening set, the Croat landed his first break of the match with Zverev serving to stay in the second set at 5-6. With the contest locked up at a set apiece, neither player would be broken again.

Staring down triple set point on serve at 5-6 in the fourth set, Coric remained composed to reel off five straight points and force the fourth-set tie-break. It left the German having converted just one of 11 break-point opportunities.

In the tie-break it was Zverev who looked the tighter of the pair. He threw his arms up in despair when Coric rifled a forehand pass for 5/2. The Croat brought up two match points with a huge serve drawing the smash and he took it when Zverev sailed one final forehand long.

You May Also Like: Bent But Not Broken, Stebe Soars After Three Years On Sidelines

It throws the bottom half of the draw even wider open with No.5 seed Marin Cilic, the highest remaining seed after just the second round. Coric will face South African 28th seed Kevin Anderson for a place in the fourth round. In a clash of former Top 10 opponents, Anderson handed Latvian Ernests Gulbis an unwanted 29th birthday present when he posted a 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 victory. 

It was a draw the fourth-seeded Zverev was all too aware of, an opportunity he was left to rue. His quest to progress beyond the fourth round at a Grand Slam for the first time continues.

“It's upsetting because the draw is pretty open in the bottom part,” Zverev said. “I felt like I should have been favoured there. You know, I just played a very, very bad match, so it's unfortunate. But that's how it is.”

John Isner is through to his ninth straight US Open third round, with the big-serving American coasting past #NextGenATP South Korean Hyeon Chung on Wednesday. The No. 10 seed moved through with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 result to improve his unbeaten run in second-round matches at Flushing Meadows to 10-0.

Chung had arrived in New York City at a career-high No. 47 in the Emirates ATP Rankings but was no match for his opponent’s 30 aces. Isner is 14-3 since Wimbledon, with title runs in Newport and Atlanta as well as a semi-final finish at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. He will face 23rd seed Mischa Zverev after the German’s 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-7(3), 7-5 victory over Frenchman Benoit Paire. It was Zverev's second straight five-set triumph, having beaten American Thai-Son Kwiatkowski in the opening round.

Isner’s compatriot Sam Querrey also advanced to the third round. The 17th seed easily accounted for Israel’s Dudi Sela 6-4, 6-1, 6-4. “Everything felt great today,” Querrey said. “I mean, Dudi is a tricky player. He's got a fan club behind him. They're loud, they're cheering on their guy. “I felt like I did a good job of just putting pressure on him, staying in front, coming to the net, serving big. I feel like when I do that against anyone, I'm pretty tricky.”

More stories like this in: