Coric saves five championship points in Marrakech, Johnson triumphs in Houston
By Ricky Dimon
Borna Coric won the first ATP title of his career after fighting off five championship points against Philipp Kohlschreiber in the Grand Prix Hassan II final on Sunday afternoon. The 20-year-old Croat also recovered from breaks down in the second and third sets to prevail 5-7, 7-6(3), 7-5 after two hours and 38 minutes.
Coric saved all five match points while serving to stay alive at 5-6 in the second set.
Kohlschreiber reversed the momentum back on his side by going up a break in the decider, but the roller-coaster ride was not yet over. Coric eventually pulled ahead 6-5 and he converted match point at 15-40 with a forehand winner off a drop-shot by the German.
“I would say that’s my biggest comeback; I’ve never saved five match points,” Coric said. “Especially in such an important match, I served very well in the big points. It’s an awesome feeling. I didn’t know what to expect when I came here and I wasn’t in the best shape. But I’ve been working very hard the past three or four months and now it’s paying off.”
“It’s one of those days where you have many good opportunities,” Kohlschreiber reflected. “It was a big fight and great drama in the end. Losing a match with match points and to be so close to the title is always very difficult. But it was a very good week for me. I played great tennis this week and I’m looking forward to more clay-court matches.”
In Houston, meanwhile, Steve Johnson captured his second career ATP title by outlasting Thomaz Bellucci 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(5). Johnson trailed by a break in the third and struggled with cramps but somehow managed to storm back for the win.
“To win on U.S. soil and win when you’re not feeling great is a testament to my willpower and competitiveness,” Johnson commented. “My body has just physically run out of gas after this week. Coming in from Australia kind of put me behind the eight ball and then the nerves of trying to close out the final, a lot of factors go into cramping. I was very fortunate to get out of that.
“I can think things through even when times are tough. I knew I just had to take a few deep breaths and just get enough going in my body to last another five to 10 minutes out there.”
“I wasn’t cramping, but I was so tired that I couldn’t think to win the match,” Bellucci explained. “He was a little bit worse than me (physically), but he was playing unbelievably. I’m a little bit sad because I think I could have won, but I’m happy to make another final.”
Topics: 10sballs, Atp World Tour, Borna Coric, Clay tennis, Grand Prix Hassan ll, Marrakech Tennis, Men's tennis, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Ricky Dimon, River Oaks, Sports, Stevie Johnson, Tennis News, Thomaz Bellucci, US Men's Clay Court Championship