Coric nets breakthrough win
Borna Coric recovered from a break down in a tense deciding set to oust Kevin Anderson 2-6 6-4 7-6(3) and reach the semi-finals of the BNP Paribas Open
It’s the first time the resilent Croatian has made it this far at a Masters event, and he will challenge Roger Federer, who defeated Hyeon Chung 7-5 6-1, for a place in the championship match.
It was yet more quarter-final heartbreak for Anderson. The big-serving South African was bidding to score his first last eight victory at Masters level, but he faltered when on the brink of achieving his objective.
It was a painful defeat for the 31-year-old and he will be perturbed at how he let a 4-2 final set lead evaporate. With the winning line in sight, he repeatedly misfired and his forehand was a liability in the tiebreak.
Coric, who enjoys the desert conditions, disappeared from view last year but he has found a winning formula in recent weeks. His appetite for success never faded during his barren spell and he is now beginning to reap the rewards.
It’s easy to forget that Coric is still only 21-years-old. His wins over Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray in the infancy of his career created a furore surrounding his future, and until recently, he struggled to cope with sky-high expectations.
Anderson had dominated his previous encounters with Coric and there was little in the first set to suggest that pattern would change. The world No.9 was in command, and he bagged the opener by six games to two.
The momentum was with the South African, but he offered his opponent hope in the first game of the second set. Coric became just the second player this week to break the usually formidable Anderson serve - after his opponent scudded a forehand beyond the baseline.
The Croatian, who hit just three winners in the opener, was more assertive in the second set and the single break he achieved was sufficient for him to force a decider.
Anderson struck the first blow in the third set. An untimely double-fault from Coric handed him a 4-2 advantage, however he was equally generous in the following game.
The South African failed to consolidate his lead and his opponent struck back immediately before pulling level at 4-4. It was a costly passage of play for the No.7 seed, and he never quite rediscovered his composure.
Coric was ecstatic after sealing a big win in a one-sided tiebreak, and he is now entering unchartered territory.