Coric Eyeing First Title Of 2019 In St. Petersburg
Fourth-seeded Croatian Borna Coric booked a place in his third ATP Tour semi-final of the year on Friday with a 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory against eighth seed Casper Ruud of Norway.
Prior to this week, the 22-year-old Coric had not won consecutive matches since June. But he broke three times and improved to 25-15 on the year. Coric also reached the last four at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (l. to Federer) in February and at the Libema Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (l. to Mannarino) in June.
“I didn’t start very well. I thought he was playing much better than me,” Coric said. “But then I started to play much better, also much more aggressive, and I think in the end, that paid off.”
Ruud, despite falling short of his first Top 30 win (0-12), bolstered his chances of qualifying for the Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held 5-9 November in Milan, by making his first non-clay ATP Tour quarter-final of the season. Ruud is currently in sixth place in the ATP Race To Milan, which will determine seven of the eight players at the 21-and-under event.
Coric will next play Joao Sousa of Portugal, who beat sixth seed and 2010 champion Mikhail Kukushkin 7-6(8), 6-2. Sousa saved all four break points to make his second ATP Tour semi-final of the season (Gstaad). In their only FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting, Coric beat Sousa in three sets in June at the grass-court NOVENTI OPEN in Halle.
“Today was another great day for me. I was able to play good tennis. I’m working very well with my slice. I was able to connect and to be comfortable with this shot, ” Sousa said.