The recent appointment of former Andy Murray coach Ivan Lendl to Alexander Zverev’s corner increases the speculation that his first Slam is nearing. Devil’s advocates will side with Borna Coric in the debate as to the first young gun to break through and bag a Slam.
The Head-To-Head Numbers Favour Coric
Borna Coric leads to the head-to-head over Zverev 3-1, including two hard-court wins and a recent grass court victory at Halle. This was en route to beating Roger Federer in the final and stripping him of his title. Zverev has beaten Coric this year at the Miami Masters. However, when they meet, generally Coric is able to use his range to boss the German.
In 2017, Coric beat Zverev in the 2nd round of a Slam: the US Open. This will play on Alexander Zverev’s mind when facing the Croatian in future Slams. Something that is likely to happen sooner rather than later. This article is not about Zverev being a bad player. Far from it, but when you look at the two players- it’s difficult to justify how Zverev is better placed to make that Slam leap than Coric.
Coric Has an ATP Final Victory Over Federer Already in the Bag
This season’s Halle triumph is a good reason to prefer Coric’s Slam winning readiness over Zverev’s. To be fair, the German has also beaten Roger Federer in the pressure pot of a final (Canadian Masters 2017). Although, Coric beat the Swiss Maestro on his own surface (grass).
Coric showed resilience and oodles of confidence to capture this title. In fact the year before Federer had beaten Alexander Zverev in the same final. The confidence that Coric can draw from such an achievement is invaluable. In Slams and big matches against big players, Zverev has not always done himself justice. Something that Lendl will be more than mindful of.
Coric and Zverev Need to Address Form Dip in Order to Make Waves at Flushing Meadows
A feature of the NextGen is form spurts then dips. Alexander Zverev followed up an impressive Citi Open title with below par and mediocre efforts at the Rogers Cup and Cincinnati Masters, respectively. He’ll be pinning hopes on new coach syndrome lifting his form back up to Citi Open level.
Similarly, Coric since his Halle win has a 2-4 win/loss record. Whilst Coric’s match record in the last two Slams is a disappointing 2-2, he will still go into Flushing Meadows with plenty of belief. All stemming from the previously mentioned Halle final victory over Federer. Coric’s best Slam performance is a 3rd round appearance at Flushing Meadows and Roland Garros.
At 21 years of age, Coric can be forgiven for taking a little time to settle into the Slam, fortnight, five-set rhythm. At the US Open last year he looked promising initially, but came up against eventual runner-up Kevin Anderson in the 3rd round. Last season was a learning curve for Coric. This season he will be ready.
Zverev Running Out of Slam Excuses
A rule of thumb is: the better that Alxender Zverev is playing then the bigger the decline is in his Slam performance. 2017’s French Open is a great case in point. Zverev was in amazing form going into it, having won the Rome Masters and had a sturdy overall clay season. He was dumped out in the first round of the French Open 2017 by Fernando Verdasco. Zverev summed up his own performance best of all:
“I played absolute sh*t… It’s quite simple.”
He made up for it this year in some respects, making the quarterfinals. However, he should have been beaten before he was eventually dumped out by Thiem. There have been too many inexpliably poor Slam matches from Zverev for you to be confident about him winning one anytime soon. It’ll be interesting to see how Lendl changes his charge’s approach to Slams.
Coric on Way to Realising Potential McEnroe Saw in him When He Was 18
Coric, on the other hand is steadily growing in stature. When Coric was 18 years old- McEnroe was raving about him as the future of men’s tennis. He will beat his third round best effort at a Slam, soon. Coric knows he can beat the best in finals, as his confidence continues to grow, so will his threat in Slams.
Coric Could Meet Alexander Zverev in 2018 US Open Semifinal
In the 2018 US Open draw recently announced, Coric and Zverev can only meet in the semis. If they do, it’ll be a first Slam final for one of them.
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