Aljaz Bedene will look to repeat as a finalist in Chennai as he faces off against Borna Coric in Saturday's second semifinal at the Aircel Chennai Open. Bedene's only career final came last year at this event, where he lost to Stan Wawrinka. Coric is still seeking his first tour-level final.
Road to the Semifinals
Borna Coric secured his first ATP semifinal since last spring in Dubai by slipping past Roberto Bautista-Agut in the quarterfinals on Friday. Coric battled back from a set down to knock out the fourth seed 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (1). The Croatian was at his best when his serve found a rhythm in the second set. To his credit, Coric showed a good nerve in the final set after blowing a break lead. He rolled through the tiebreak after dropping the first point as he won the final seven to take the match. Coric's most dominant tennis came in the second round when he beat Austin Krajicek 6-2, 7-5. He won 43 of 53 points on-serve. His opening round match against Marcel Granollers was good test of nerve as he edged the Spaniard in three sets; 7-6, 2-6, 6-4.
Aljaz Bedene entered Chennai as an unseeded player. He opened the tournament against 7th seed Vasek Pospisil and pulled off the minor upset 7-5, 7-6. Bedene would then be put under pressure in the next two rounds as he survived a pair of three set matches. In the second round, he battled back from a set down to take down Luca Vanni 5-7, 6-3, 6-4. He would repeat that feat in the quarterfinals against Ramukar Ramanathan with a 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 victory. In both matches, the Slovenian-born Bedene used a stunning first serve that saw him win 81 percent of the points combined between the two matches.
Coric and Bedene have met just once before and that came in 2015 on clay in Umag, Croatia. Coric came out on top 6-4, 6-4. The big difference in the match was second serve as Coric won 56 percent of his second serve points, while Bedene won just 39 percent. Coric was broken just once on six chances, while Bedene was broken three times on eight opportunities.
The serve will tell a lot of the story in this match. Bedene's rates a bit better than Coric's at this stage due to the consistency of his first serve. If he lands 60 percent or higher in play, Bedene is going to be in position to win. Coric's serve is still developing as the 19-year-old can struggle at-times to find his best quality. As with many young players, there is a trickle down effect when the serve falters. So if Coric's serve is not consistent, his ground strokes can suffer as well.
Coric has the better backhand of the two and it is a shot that he can use effectively to craft court position and put away winners. The forehands for both are fairly solid and look to be about even on paper. From an experience perspective, Bedene should be slightly more comfortable playing at the site of his only ATP finals appearance. Coric has yet to break through to an ATP final after making a few semifinals in his young career. This should be a close encounter with a slim margin of victory for whomever comes out on top. Give the slightest advantage to Bedene who has battled through adversity several times this week.
Prediction: Bedene wins in three sets.