Coric arrives early as he targets Melbourne success

  • Alex Sharp

With under two weeks until the Australian Open launches into action, the world’s top players are beginning to arrive at Melbourne Park to fine tune their games.

Borna Coric is making sure he is in prime condition for the opening Grand Slam of the season with plenty of practice sessions onsite.

The 22-year-old has been incrementally rising up the rankings since he burst onto the scene in 2014, but last season was a breakout year for the Croatian.

A second ATP title arrived courtesy of a magnificent win over Roger Federer in Halle, ahead of his best Grand Slam finish in the US Open fourth round.

A maiden Masters 1000 final followed in Shanghai, with world No.1 Novak Djokovic prevailing in a quality contest. The 2018 campaign hit a crescendo with a Davis Cup final triumph in his Croatian colours.

Playing at a career-high ranking of world No.12, it is easy to see why Coric is among the ones to watch at AO19.

The 22-year-old is fiercely focused on replicating his 2018 exploits and put in the hard yards over pre-season at his coach Riccardo Piatti’s tennis centre.

“I was working in Bordighera (Italy), it’s my base now. I was training hard for three weeks. I didn’t have such a long off-season because I finished with the Davis Cup very, very late,” said Coric. “Then I had a week and a half off, so not much time to prepare. That’s why I came here and not play anything before.”

The world No.12 is hoping the euphoria from Davis Cup success can provide the catalyst for personal silverware.

“Absolutely, it was one of the greatest moments of my whole life. I was dreaming of winning that since I was a child, it was a great feeling. I was really proud of myself and the whole team.”

I’ve arrived very, very early so that I have plenty of time to prepare, to get used to the weather and the timezone
Borna Coric

Despite his reserves in fitness, stamina and skill, the Next Gen prodigy has fallen at the first hurdle in Melbourne at all four previous attempts from 2015-18.

“I’ve never played good here to be honest, only when I was a junior I played good as I made the semis,” continued Coric, who practised with Gael Monfils on Court 3 on Thursday morning. “I’ve never won a round, so hopefully something will change.

“I’ve arrived very, very early so that I have plenty of time to prepare, to get used to the weather and the timezone.”

With the sun blazing down and the variety of life in Melbourne, Coric is keen to earn a prolonged stay down under.

“It’s always nice to come here, even if I haven’t played well. Putting that aside, I always have fun here, I like it,” he added.

An exhibition match in Adelaide will be his only stint away from Melbourne Park ahead of targeting glory at AO19, but Coric is content to explore the local surroundings between gruelling practices.

“I like the city to be honest. I like to go to the Crown and to that area, I also like to go to Chapel Street sometimes, it’s really nice,” said Coric. “Also, coming here the facilities are great. It’s for sure one of the best Slams.”