In the first battle of ATP Young Guns at the French Open, unseeded Borna Coric surprised 20th-seeded Bernard Tomic in a rollercoaster 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6) match on Thursday.
The duo had only met once previously, at Indian Wells in 2015. The 23-year-old Australian won this hard court duel quite easily in straight sets.
Prior to the match, it seemed unclear who would win. Tomic is 6-foot-five, which gives him an instant service advantage over Coric, who is listed at 6-foot-one but looks much smaller. The problematic Australian is known for his deep, flat, penetrating groundstrokes and booming serve, which is better suited to the faster, lower-bouncing courts of Roland Garros.
Despite his clay court suited game, Tomic has evidently struggled this European clay season. He’s a pitiful 0-4 in 2016, and 5-15 in the past three years. Perhaps it’s Tomic’s lack of movement — he was likened to a sloth on Prozac — that is the reason he struggles to pick up win on the red dirt.
It was apparent the No. 2 Australian had a different problem today, as he seemed to be battling dizziness throughout the match, calling for medical assistance early in the third set and complaining to the match umpire that he felt “dizzy and unwell.”
Due to the world No. 20’s apparent illness, Tomic struggled to stay in long rallies, noticeably relying on hitting winners to stay in the match. His attitude was as bleak as his shot selection and I wasn’t surprised to see Tomic running his mouth again, despite just recently getting in trouble for doing so in Madrid. During the match, the Australian shouted: “I hate this service!” With his mind in a negative blackhole, Tomic’s lack of focus was demonstrated when he was serving to the level the match and hit a pathetic backhand low into the net. But, at least this time he was holding his racquet the right way during the match…
This was a fantastic win for Coric, who after nearly breaking into the Top 30 in 2015, has seemingly plateaued in the mid-forties of the rankings. He’s currently ranked No. 47 with a lackluster 15-14 record in 2016. However, he did make a run to the finals in Marrakech, which is on clay. Coric’s nimble and fleet footwork counter that of Tomic’s slow steps, which is perhaps the reason the Croatian persevered on Thursday.
Next, the 19-year-old faces 14th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut. The veteran Spaniard leads the pair’s head-to-hear 2-1, but Coric was triumphant in three sets in January in Chennai, India.
This will be another challenging match for Coric, who despite some noticeable clay court success, will be up against another much higher ranked player who grew up on the red clay.
The two will face Saturday.