Profile | Borna Coric
Having already defeated Nadal and Murray, this Croatian teenager is determined to crash the top 10 party
By Stephen Higgins | 29 July 2015
John McEnroe can't stop praising him in commentary. Numerous tour players, including the world number one Novak Djokovic, are touting him for greatness. The lad himself has little doubt about his talents.
So what's the deal with Borna Coric? Where did he come from, and how high can he go?
Borna Coric was born in Zagreb, Croatia on November 14th 1996. His mother Zelkja is a banker, while his father Damir worked as a lawyer before retiring to support his son's career. Borna has one sister, Bruna.
Coric started playing tennis at the age of five. His journey to the professional tour has been moulded in his home country, and interestingly, London.
At 14, the Croat was spotted by the retired venture capitalist Clive Sherling. Sherling, an Englishman, is the founder and financier behind the Junior Tennis Coaching Foundation, a small academy based in Middlesex, north London.
The JTCF aims to transform outstanding juniors into successful seniors. Their model involves funding the player's tennis and academic progress in return for a cut of (potential) future earnings. Coric signed up to the deal, and moved to England alone before Damir later joined him.
Sherling's investment and Damir's sacrifice were rewarded in little time, as Coric produced superb performances on the junior circuit.
In 2013, he excelled at the junior grand slams, reaching the quarters of Wimbledon, semis of Australia and Roland Garros, and final of the US Open where he defeated Australia's Thanasi Kokkinakis (above).
By that September, he was crowned junior world number one. The question was; would that ranking prove to be a boon or burden to the Croat as he entered the senior tour?
It was most definitely a boon, as Coric transitioned seamlessly to the seniors.
While still a junior, the Croat captured five Futures titles in 2013 in Great Britain, Turkey and Nigeria. That year also saw his first taste of Davis Cup action, as he lined out for Croatia against Great Britain.
Andy Murray was the teenager's opponent in the singles, and the Scot understandably had too much class for the youngster. Coric lost in straight sets, but it was a fine debut season amongst the pros as he finished the year ranked 303.
The investment of time, funding and work on court truly bore fruit in 2014.
Firstly, the 17-year-old had a more pleasant experience representing his country in April, as he defeated Poland's Jerzy Janowicz in Warsaw. That was followed by high-profile victories over Edouard Roger-Vasselin at Umag and Lukas Rosol at the US Open.
A late season surge saw him win a Challenger in Turkey, reach the semis of another in Uzbekistan, and then fully ripen in Basel.
The Croat defeated Ernests Gulbis and Andrey Golubev early on in Switzerland, before dispatching the world number three Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals. Coric became the first 17-year-old to beat a top three player since the Majorcan demolished Roger Federer at Miami in 2005.
After an outstanding sophomore campaign, Borna finished the year inside the top 100, a rise of 276 places! As the youngest player in the top 100, Coric received the ATP's Star of Tomorrow award.
2015 has seen the 18-year-old acquaint himself with a full ATP Tour schedule. Highlights thus far include a run to the last four of Dubai, where he defeated Andy Murray in straight sets, and fine efforts at Estoril, Nice, Roland Garros and his home tournament Umag.
Alongside Murray, Coric has notched victories over Tommy Robredo, Sam Querrey, Jeremy Chardy and Sergiy Stakhovsky.
In April, Coric hired former Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson as his coach. The Swede replaced Croatia's Davis Cup captain Zeljko Krajan, who had worked with the teenager since November 2014.
Barely out of the juniors, Coric is now closing in on the world's senior top 30.
Boasting a powerful first serve, superb two-handed backhand, and nimble movement; Coric has a good foundation to challenge the game's elite.
The Croat's serve is an effective first strike, garnering cheap points and setting his backhand up for the next shot.
Coric's two-hander has good depth and power, and he is comfortable throwing in a slice to break up the rhythm. The forehand is also a weapon, but appears less reliable. He tends to make more unforced errors off that wing in the matches I've watched.
The teenager's movement is excellent, and he is not afraid to scamper behind the baseline to retrieve the ball. In fact, a criticism I would have is that he is too comfortable in defensive positions, and could do with moving closer to the baseline and showing more aggression.
If he can do that, and harness that forehand, he will be a regular fixture in the top 10.