The first Men’s singles quarterfinal at the US Open this year will see 27th seed Borna Coric take on fifth seed Alexander Zverev, with the former hoping to reach a first Grand Slam semifinal and the latter hoping to reach back-to-back semifinals at Grand Slam tournaments following his run in Melbourne earlier this year.
Coric has become one of the more forgotten members of the ‘Next Gen’ after injury issues saw him fall down the rankings, though the Croatian is now in a first Grand Slam quarterfinal. The world number 32 saved six match points to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round before dispatching Jordan Thompson in straight sets to reach the last eight. Coric has rounded into form nicely and will be brimming with confidence.
There was a narrative prior to this season that Zverev was unable to perform at majors, though after reaching the last four at the Australian Open in January he is now in his first quarterfinal at Flushing Meadows. The German was pushed to four sets in his first three matches, including a round one victory over former finalist Kevin Anderson and then a second round win over American wildcard Brandon Nakashima, though won his fourth round match in just 94 minutes and will be satisfied with the level he has brought onto court.
This will be the fifth time the two have met and rather surprisingly, considering the slight gulf in what the two have achieved, Coric has won three of their four previous encounters. The Croatian has picked up a win over the world number one on grass in Halle and has won two of their three hard court meetings, including a four-set second round meeting at Flushing Meadows in 2017. The two have not met in over two years; a lot has changed for both since then.
Zverev’s chances of winning any match can often depend on how he is serving. The German served well in Melbourne earlier this season and has served well so far in New York, and the serve can be a real weapon for him; he served 18 aces in his fourth round win against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. However, the German can be prone to serving a large amount of double faults, particularly in tight matches and when there is a lot on the line. The highest ranked player left in the top half, it will be interesting to see if that pressure shows when serving.
Though he is the underdog for this encounter, there might also be a little pressure on Coric considering his lead in the head to head. In the past the 27th seed, a very solid mover and a great athlete, may have been able to exploit Zverev’s movement. The German has become a much better movement in the past couple of seasons and it will be interesting to see how the Croatian deals with that. He will still likely look to extend rallies to take control of them, though will have to be patient if doing so.
The baseline rallies will be incredibly interesting to watch, mainly because we’ll see who is able to penetrate more. Zverev, in his fourth major quarterfinal, may be less nervous and have more freedom with his groundstrokes as he looks to dictate play. The former world number three is the more powerful of the two which could be an advantage on these fast hard courts, though Coric can be effective with his groundtrokes, particularly with his forehand, and is clearly also thriving on these courts.
This will be a fascinating contest to see what has changed for both men since they last played two years ago, and it could not be much more important with a spot in a Grand Slam semifinal at stake. Coric has the experience of beating Zverev and certainly has the game to trouble the German, though the world number seven comes in with more experience at slams and should be able to prevail.
Prediction: Alexander Zverev in four sets