After an hour and 14 minutes, the 26-year-old, who won his first ATP Masters 1000 trophy in Cincinnati last year, earned a service break in his second return game.
On Wednesday evening at the 2023 Madrid Open, Borna Coric put an end to Daniel Altmaier’s unbeaten streak. The 17th seed defeated the lucky loser 6-3, 6-3 to advance to the semi-finals where he will face top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz, the reigning champion. Inside Manolo Santana Stadium, Coric’s prior performance experience was evident. After an hour and 14 minutes, the 26-year-old, who won his first ATP Masters 1000 trophy in Cincinnati last year, earned a service break in his second return game and never looked back to win.
“I always love to play here in Madrid. I have very, very nice memories from here and I knew I could play well,” Coric said in his on-court interview. “I came here very early to prepare myself for the tournament, as it’s, I would say, a little bit different to the next tournaments. I’m just very happy to be in the semi-finals.”
Coric, who first made an appearance in the Madrid quarterfinals in 2017 as a lucky loser, made the most of his second appearance. With his first serve, the Zagreb native dominated his German foe and never faced a break point. Altmaier had one main draw Masters 1000 victory on his record when he arrived in the Spanish capital, and that victory came against Jurij Rodionov in the final round of qualifying. The 24-year-old, however, who was drawn as a lucky loser, advanced to the quarterfinals without dropping a set.
However, he had trouble staying consistent early on against Coric from the baseline, and that cost him. Altmaier struggled to gain the upper hand after giving up the opening break of the game with a double fault at 1-2. The Croatian’s service games in the first set were never really under much pressure from the German, despite his powerful one-handed backhand and deep return position. As the match went on, that changed as Altmaier was able to apply pressure to Coric’s forehand, which was the less reliable of the 17th seed’s groundstrokes. But after getting a break early on, the three-time ATP Tour champion hit some accurate shots, including a lovely backhand lob to save a match at 3-2 40/40.
The quick victory provided Coric with a much-needed reprieve after it took him three hours and 28 minutes to defeat local favourite Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in Tuesday’s fourth round. Coric won 90% of the points he served first, and he will look to continue that trend against Alcaraz, who he will face for the first time. “He’s absolutely an unbelievable player in unbelievable shape in the moment as well,” Coric said. “So he’s the favourite and I’m going to just go out there and I’m going to enjoy himself. I like to play here in this stadium and it’s going to be a very cool feeling for sure.”