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'You get used to hearing you're the next Novak Djokovic' - Borna Coric on early-career comparisons

Borna Coric at French Open 2019
Borna Coric at French Open 2019
Namit Kumar
Modified 28 Jul 2020, 20:42 IST

Borna Coric was one of the players who tested positive for coronavirus during Novak Djokovic's ill-fated Adria Tour of exhibition tournaments. The Croat found himself in the same boat as Viktor Troicki, Grigor Dimitrov and Novak Djokovic himself, after the second stage of the tour came to a halt in Zadar, Croatia.

Since then, the World No. 33 has fully recovered from the virus and made a spirited but unsuccessful return to tennis. He lost three matches and won just one at the Eastern European Championship held recently.

After recovering from the virus, Borna Coric spoke extensively about the Adria Tour and the massive media fallout from the debacle. The Croat has now also weighed in on his early career comparisons with the likes of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

Rise in rankings is not automatic: Borna Coric on comparisons with Novak Djokovic

Borna Coric (L) and Novak Djokovic at the 2018 Rolex Shanghai Masters
Borna Coric (L) and Novak Djokovic at the 2018 Rolex Shanghai Masters

The Croat spoke to Sportklub during a radio program and elaborated on the various pressures he faced when he was just arriving on to the men's tour. According to Borna Coric, the grind of the pro tour was a harsh reality check after all the expectations heaped on him during the juniors.

"I think that's what happened and what happens to many players," said Coric. "You get used to hearing that you are the best, that you are the next Novak Djokovic, or the next Roger Federer. People start planning for you and then reality catches up with you."

The comparisons with Novak Djokovic in particular were very widespread, giving the similarities in the two players' games. Djokovic was one of Borna Coric's idols while he was growing up, and many of his strengths - like the backhand - bear an uncanny resemblance to the Serb.

Coric, however, learned to look past the external expectations and comparisons. Now, the only real pressure he faces is what he puts on himself.

"I have the pressure that I put on myself when I look at myself in the mirror. At this precise moment, it is for me to know if I have done everything to be the best," Coric said.

The Croat has had some major breakthroughs in his short career so far. Borna Coric reached a Masters 1000 final in Shanghai two years ago, where he was bested none other than by Novak Djokovic in the final. The 23-year-old had defeated Roger Federer in the semifinal of that tournament, after having also beaten the Swiss legend at Halle - where Federer holds a record 10 titles.

Borna Coric reached a career-high ranking of No. 12 in November of 2018, and has won two ATP titles so far - Halle in 2018 and Marrakesh in 2017. The Croat is adamant, however, that his feet are firmly planted on the ground and his focus is simply to keep improving.

"When I went from 33rd place to 20th in 18 months at the age of 18, I remember thinking that the next logical step would be for me to reach the top 10 fairly quickly," Coric said.
"But it doesn't work like that. I now know that it is not automatic, that I must continue to work and improve," he added.
Published 28 Jul 2020, 20:42 IST
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