Borna Coric, who set off for New York last Friday to prepare for the Western & Southern Open and US Open, has been working hard over the past five months to develop his fitness and game. Shortly prior to the ATP Tour suspension on 9 March due to COVID-19, the Croatian had reached the semi-finals of the Rio Open presented by Claro.
ATPTour.com caught up with the 23-year-old as he waited to board a flight to New York from Resnik Airport in Split, where he revealed what he’s missed most, what he’s been up to and more…
How did you approach the break?
After hearing the news in Indian Wells, I took 10 days off and then I started practising, but it came when it was announced that the Tour was going to be suspended for five or six weeks. I started hitting balls again around the original date for Roland Garros, played some exhibition matches, but unfortunately I got COVID-19 and couldn’t do anything for two-and-a-half weeks. Once I recovered, I had five or six weeks for preparation and now I’m feeling better and ready to go. I was training mainly in Split and Zagreb, and then Belgrade for a couple of weeks.
Did you make any changes to your game or equipment during the break?
I’ve been working on a few things with my coach, which we hope will help my game in the future and I’ve been able to lose some of the injury niggles I had [Coric had hamstring, abdominal and back injuries in 2019]. Now I’m ready to go again.
What else did you do during the downtime?
I don’t have many hobbies outside of tennis, or time to enjoy them. I did spend more time with my family, some friends, which was great as I haven’t been able to do that too much for the past 10 years. I also walked my dog, Nala, a lot.
How have your goals changed with the changing calendar?
Although the tournament schedule has changed, because of the ongoing situation, the goals are the same: I just want to stay healthy and play good tennis, which are the most important things for me. I didn’t set any particular goals at the start of the season and haven’t done so now. I just look forward to playing competitively.
What do you see as the keys to making a fast start when the tour resumes?
I just have to try and play aggressively, use my serve as a big weapon and move as well as I can. Anyone who can get a lot of tennis and extra matches in, will benefit certainly come the US Open, as tournament tennis will come thick and fast after the suspension.
Does the time off favour the more experienced players or perhaps younger players with younger bodies?
I think it’s going to marginally favour the more experienced players, but it will be interesting to see who has worked the hardest over the past five months and gets off to a good start, like some do after the traditional off-season in January.
Which players are you most looking forward to seeing again in person?
I’m looking forward to seeing pretty much all of them again. I’ve seen all of the Serbian and Croatian players, my best friends over the past five months. I think I’ve set up practice sessions once I arrive with Novak Djokovic and Milos Raonic, but other than that my coach knows my schedule.
Have you taken any special precautions to stay safe from COVID-19 during the Tour suspension?
Absolutely, I have been negative in the three or four tests recently. Prior to flying, I have taken another test as well to ensure I’m 100 per cent healthy.
Which tournament(s) hurt the most to miss due to the suspension?
I definitely missed playing in Miami [the Miami Open presented by Itau] and at Roland Garros, which I both love.