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“I worked three times as hard as before to get back”: Fit-again Borna Coric explains his return to top form in Cincinnati

The Croat is one win away from a first Masters 1000 title, having rediscovered top form after shoulder surgery

Borna Coric AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Four years ago, Borna Coric was ranked a career-high No 12, seemingly destined to break into the top 10 and perhaps begin to contend for the biggest titles, having burst onto the scene in 2014, beating Rafael Nadal as a 17-year-old.

Sidelined by knee surgery in 2016, just when he was making big strides, he then suffered a serious shoulder injury in 2021, which needed surgery. Off the Tour for most of the year, he returned in early 2022 outside the top 100 and dropped out of the top 200 in April as he struggled to get his game back together.

Coming into this week, at the Western & Southern Open, the 25-year-old Croat was ranked No 52 but another win over Nadal set him on his way and victories over Roberto Bautista Agut, Felix Auger-Aliassime and then Cameron Norrie mean he will take on Stefanos Tsitsipas for the title on Sunday, a chance to win his first Masters 1000 title. He’ll be back in the world’s top 50, too, come Monday.

For the last six months I was really focused. I kept my head down even when I was losing.

Borna Coric

The secret? Hard work, and a little fortune.

“I find it always in my career…that when I put the work in, and I know that all of the guys said it, but I really find that that’s the only explanation which I have,” he said. “I was really, really working very hard in the last six months, because I needed to come back. I think once you are in the top 20 or in top 30 or somewhere where you want to be, you know, you can get a little bit sloppy and maybe get away with it.

“But once you fall down to ranking, No. 200 – I don’t know where I was – I knew I need to work probably three times more harder than I used to work, and that’s what I did. For the last six months I was really focused. I kept my head down even when I was losing and when I was not playing very good tennis. There was times when I was really not playing good tennis, you know, since I came back.

“I think that’s the key and then obviously you need to be lucky a little bit, as well. Again, I believe that you create your own luck. I think, you know, that’s what I did this week or actually in the past, you know, I did it, and I got a little bit lucky this week.”

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