While Nick Kyrgios gets up for Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka in Acapulco, merely teasing us for the next time he loses to a far more ordinary opponent, Borna Coric did just the opposite in Dubai. He defeated the players he is supposed to beat — Jiri Vesely, Tomas Berdych, and Nikoloz Basilashvili — and then got steamrolled by Roger Federer in Friday’s semifinals.
You might think that the lopsided nature of the beatdown endured at the hands of Federer is cause for concern, but I would take a completely different view of Borna’s situation.
This was a very good week and — moreover — the kind of week he needs to create a lot more often on tour.
You know the Kyrgios pattern, mentioned above: Nick plays inspired ball against the elites but can’t display consistency, the true hallmark of enduring professional quality. Give me the guy who regularly goes deep in tournaments — such as Kei Nishikori — over the guy who can be great on his best day but can’t reliably win matches when playing at a C-plus or B-minus level. The former will create some memorable moments, but the latter will get a lot more rankings points, stay in the top tier of the tour for a long time, and play on a lot more Fridays and Saturdays at tournaments so that crowds can see and appreciate him.
Coric was somewhat “Kyrgiosian” in 2018, getting up for Federer but not delivering consistency over the course of his season. Coric still hasn’t made a single major-tournament quarterfinal, despite being several months older than a man who has at least made one: Alexander Zverev. As I have written before, Coric gets a tiny fraction of the criticism Zverev does, despite the fact that Zverev has achieved at a much higher level.
The proper focus should be on giving Zverev more time and space to evolve.
Nevertheless, weeks such as this one in Dubai point the way forward for Borna Coric. If he crafts these kinds of weeks on a more consistent basis, he will make his first major quarterfinal… and probably two… before 2019 is done.
Beating Federer is something every ATP player aspires to, but beating everyone else has to occur first.
There is irony in this: Federer has buttered his bread less by beating Rafa and Novak, and more by beating… yes… everyone else.