Almost three months after putting Nick Kyrgios on the map at Wimbledon, Rafael Nadal did it again today by shining the spotlight on another teen, this time on 17-year-old Borna Coric who blitzed Nadal 6-2, 7-6 in the Basel quarters.
Coric, a mature speedster with a heady game, stormed out to a 5-0 lead in the first and then hung on for the win over Rafa who really looked like someone who didn’t want to be out on the court.
“I don’t know how far he can go,” said Nadal of Coric. “He’s a good guy, good player, young. It depends on how he’s able to improve.”
Nadal wasn’t at his best, but it’s still, a big win for youngster over his idol.
“It’s unbelievable for me,” said Coric who’ll crack the Top 100 now. “I just want to enjoy the moment. I’m just so surprised and it’s an unbelievable feeling.”
“Believe me, I’m a very nervous person. I [was] just trying to keep it inside of me,” said Coric. “I didn’t have anything to lose. Because I never played against him, I wasn’t sure what I was going to get – is he going to kill me or what? – so I was under pressure.”
As for Nadal, with the shaky decision to even play Basel due to the appendicitis it was understandable why Rafa looked listless out there. And now that he’s having the surgery in 10 days, 2014 is now behind and hopefully for his sake he gets some better luck in the new year.
“[It’s] nothing frustrating for me to lose here,” said Nadal, “I [knew] it was going to happen. I was ready for that. I accept and I know I have to be better for the beginning of 2015, and the only way to be better is work and health. Without health, you cannot work.”
Coric will move on to play David Goffin who bounced Milos Raonic. With Andy Murray and David Ferrer still alive in Valencia, Raonic will have to have a big Paris event to get into the Finals. I thought Roanic would get that spot over Ferrer, but not anymore.
As for Goffin, I like him to beat Coric. The Belgian’s been one of the best players the second half of the season, and now he’ll be a deserving seed at the Australian Open.
In the other semi tomorrow, Roger Federer will face big man Ivo Karlovic. As expected Federer turned away Baby Fed Grigor Dimitrov 7-6, 6-2. Grigor played decent in the first but simply went away in the second. He’s got the game but upstairs he doesn’t have it in him to beat Federer on his home soil. It’s that simple. And I don’t think Karlovic will beat Federer either.
“I thought the level was high throughout for both of us,” said Federer. “I think Grigor served very well in the first, he didn’t give me very many opportunities. It was a tough end to the set, with me saving set points and then the tie-break stayed close at the end, but I’m very pleased to come through there. I think overall it was a very good performance and I played my best tennis of the week so far.”
Federer is now just two wins from that 500 point ranking payday. So given Djokovic will be back playing next week, this weekend is really it for Federer if he wants to have a chance at No. 1.
In Valencia, Murray and Ferrer meet in the semis for the third time this month after David won in Shanghai and Andy in Vienna. Since it’s in Spain I give a slight edge to Ferrer, but it’s a toss-up match, one that Murray really should win. But with Nadal out (and Dimitrov and Raonic losing today) the pressure eases a bit for Murray in the London chase, so Ferrer needs this match more.
“The match tomorrow will be an important match, as was last week and also in Shanghai,” said Murray. “But even if I don’t win the tournament this week, I will still have an opportunity in Paris if I play well there.”
In the second semi it’s Jeremy Chardy against Tommy Robredo.
Tennis Channel will have coverage of the Basel matches.
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