One of the most fascinating things about sports is that an athlete or team can go through all sorts of ups and downs, disruptions and distractions, over several years, and yet retain a few central characteristics and tendencies.
Teams’ rosters can change over a 10-year period, and yet that team still loses to an opposing team it should defeat, or it defeats a team it frankly should lose to.
Solo athletes might get injured, or go through various other life transitions and adjustments, but still have a tendency to play certain opponents particularly well.
So it is for Borna Coric, who has had horrendous luck with injuries and is trying to get back into the mix on the ATP Tour as a regular force. Despite all the disruptions and detours and difficulties he has faced, he can still walk onto the court opposite Rafael Nadal and play the 22-time major champion at a high level.
This tweet from Bastien Fachan says it all:
Roger Federer fans can join Rafael Nadal fans in marveling at the ability of Coric — who has never reached a major semifinal — to play tennis’s icons on even (often favorable) terms. Coric won a Halle title by beating Federer in the final. He beat the Swiss in a Shanghai Masters semifinal.
Here we are again with Borna Coric: He can frustrate and defeat Fedal, which again invites the question: Can he play this way consistently, against the whole tour?
Will injury luck be kind to him this time? That also has to be asked.
Coric clearly looks like a born-again player. How much will Borna gain in this latest stage of his career?
Based on how he played Rafa, there’s a chance to gain a lot.