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Tennis From BNP Paribas • Borna Coric Edges Anderson, Reaches Indian Wells Semi

Borna Coric of Croatia reacts after winning a point against Kevin Anderson of South Africa during the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 15 March 2018. EPA-EFE/JOHN G. MABANGLO



Borna Coric stared down the tie-break terminator in a masterful breakthrough triumph.


A stubborn Coric edged Kevin Anderson, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3), in a gripping two hour, 22-minute stress test that sent the 21-year-old Croatian into his first career Masters 1000 semifinal at the BNP Paribas Open.


Coric will face either world No. 1 Roger Federer or Australian Open semifinalist and fellow NextGen star Hyeon Chung for a spot in the Indian Wells final.


Winless in three prior meetings with Anderson, Coric was blown off the court in the opening set, but regrouped shifting his spins and speeds and even adjusting the volume of his grunt at times in beating the 6’8” South African for the first time.


While Coric snapped his losing streak, Anderson extended his own ignominious streak falling to 0-9 in career Masters quarterfinals with seven of those losses coming to Top 10 opponents.


Facing the 49th-ranked Coric, an opponent he had dominated, Anderson carried an 8-0 record in three-set matches, including a 4-0 mark in third-set tie breaks into today’s final set, but could not land a big first-serve when it mattered most.


Punishing blasts from the first ball, Anderson opened with a two ace game intent on dropping the hammer.


He had some help. A jittery Coric netted dropper donating break for 0-2. Overpowering his opponent, Anderson held at 15 for 4-1.


The US Open finalist was effective torching his flat forehand into both corners as Coric’s grunt began sounding like a plaintive plea. Anderson rocked a forehand crosscourt holding at 15 for 5-2.


After a slow start, Coric’s confidence crumbled at the end of the set. Struggling through a three double-fault game, Coric netted his best shot—the two-handed backhand off his back foot—to face another set point.


Anderson blasted a forehand winner breezing through a dominant eight-game set after 32 minutes.


It was Anderson’s eighth straight set vs. the 21-year-old Croatian, whose baseball cap was spun askew slightly to the left as if his head was spinning from another thrashing from the towering South African.


“I knew that I lost to him three times in a row, you know, and in the past I never played good against him, so obviously it was not easy,” Coric said. “I was just saying to myself, just, I need, you know, one or two good points and he makes one double fault, and that’s what happened in the second set. That’s exactly what happened. I played, I think, two good points. He made a double fault at some point, and, you know, that’s it.


“And I needed to start to serve much better. That’s what I did. I was going more for the serves, I was taking more risk, and that’s what happened in the third set.”


Resetting, a scrappy Coric earned three break points to start the second set.


Anderson scalded an ace down the T to erase the third then jolted a jagged inside-out forehand winner. Coric stayed the course earning a fourth break point as the game escalated near seven minutes. Anderson sailed a backhand dropping serve for just the second time in the tournament.


Working hard through a sticky sixth game, Coric caught the sideline with a backhand down the line holding for 4-2.


By then, Coric was cranking his two-handed backhand with more vigor, particularly the two-handed drive down the line.


Serving for the set, Coric sprinted right and flicked a slick running forehand catching a crosscourt short angle leveling the match after 82 minutes with his second straight love hold.


It was the first time Coric took a set from Anderson.


Showing more positive emotion, Coric was fist-pumping through a tense service game as he dodged break point holding for 1-all in the decider.


Anderson pressed the issue in the sixth game. Coric tried a surprise serve-and-volley, but pushed his backhand volley long then dumped a double fault to gift the break and a 4-2 lead.


A frustrated Coric splattered his Wilson racquet to court after dumping his fifth double fault, but picked up the stick and his game breaking right back in the seventh game as Anderson gnawed on his towel in frustration.


Bursting off the mark quickly, Coric caught up to an angled dropped and slid a skidding backhand pass down the line capping a love hold to level, 4-4.


Anderson unleashed his fastest serves of the day powering through an 11th game hold.


Two hours, 15 minutes into a test, Coric cranked a clean backhand winner down the line forcing the tie break with a clenched fist and firm stare to his box.


Coric played with more calm and control in the tie break.


Anderson, who pumped 16 aces, went for a massive 117 mph second serve but missed the mark handing the mini break and a 3-2 lead to his opponent. When the 31-year-old South African slapped a forehand into net, Coric went up 4-2.


Driving a 126 mph serve, Coric stretched his lead to 5-2 and closed one of his biggest victories when Anderson missed a forehand.

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