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Borna Coric vs Stefanos Tsitsipas ATP Rome Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: In-form young guns, Coric and Tsitsipas meet in Rome R1

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 15 May 2018
  • Borna Coric vs Stefanos Tsitsipas is live from Rome on Tuesday, 15 May from 2:00pm local time/ 1:00pm BST
  • Coric and Tsitsipas meet for the first time
Borna Coric. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Borna Coric and Stefanos Tsitsipas meet in a mouth-watering opening round contest in Rome, as the two young guns look to build on the giant strides they have already taken this season.

Coric has undergone a remarkable transformation this season- improving almost every facet of his game to become a really consistent performer on the ATP Tour. The Croatian always had a knack of scoring the odd big win- he has two career wins over each of Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray- but he would then go on a stretch of poor results. For instance, after claiming his first career title in Marrakech last season, he lost three successive opening round matches in Monte Carlo, Budapest and Istanbul, before producing a quarter final run in Madrid, having entered the tournament as a lucky loser. It had been that sort of hit-or-miss career, until the great transformation in 2018.

Coric reached quarter finals in Doha and Dubai, either side of an opening round loss to John Millman at the Australian Open, but it was at Indian Wells where he really flourished with a superb semi-final run. He had Roger Federer on the ropes in that semi-final, but he couldn’t quite finish off the great Swiss, falling in three tight sets. He backed up that performance with another solid week in Miami, where he defeated Leonardo Mayer, Jack Sock and Denis Shapovalov before losing to Alexander Zverev.

Coric opened his clay-court season in Monte Carlo, defeating Julien Benneteau before falling in two very tight sets to Novak Djokovic in the second round- he went one step better in Madrid, beating Pablo Carreno Busta and Jan-Lennard Struff but crashing to Dominic Thiem in a match that perhaps, he should have won. Coric dominated the opening half of that contest, and served for the match in the second set, but he could not quite close it out, allowing Thiem back into the match. Thiem cruised through the ensuing tie break, but Coric regrouped to produce an extremely competitive final set. The match hinged on a couple of games towards the end- Coric failed to convert any of three break opportunities at 4-3, while Thiem took his only break point of the set at 4-4 before serving out the match to love. That was one that got away.

At some point during Coric’s fine season, he rose to a career-high No. 28 in the world, but it is interesting to note that despite all his good works, he is currently down at No. 40. That’s majorly because of points dropped from winning Marrakech and making the quarter finals in Madrid last season. Sports is a great leveler, and the Croatian gets the chance to keep the ranking moving in the right direction this week in Rome, where he is still seeking his first match win. Coric was  beaten by Mikhail Kukushkin in his only previous main draw appearance in Rome in 2016- can he finally get off the mark when he confronts Stefanos Tsitsipas on Tuesday?

Tsitsipas is having the time of his life on clay, highlighted by a superb runner-up finish in a breakthrough week in Barcelona. The 19-year-old made light work of a tough draw that included seasoned clay-court players like Diego Schwartzman, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Dominic Thiem and Pablo Carreno-Busta, beating all of them in straight sets before falling to the King of Clay Rafael Nadal in the final.

The Greek teenager followed that up with a fine semi-final in Estoril, battling past Pablo Andujar, Kevin Anderson and Roberto Carballes Baena before losing a final set tie break to Joao Sousa in the last four. All of that have lifted the Greek into the top 50 in what’s been a very rapid rise in the professional game. Tsitsipas did not register his first tour level win until last year’s Shanghai Masters where he opened his ATP account with victory over Karen Khachanov, but he followed that up with a semi-final in Antwerp, featuring wins over Pablo Cuevas, Ivo Karlovic (via retirement) and David Goffin- his first top ten win. That result propelled him into the top 100, setting him up nicely for the new year.

Tsitsipas had a decent but unspectacular spell on hard courts at the start of the season, making quarter finals in Dubai and Doha, but not doing much elsewhere. He lost in the opening rounds in Auckland, the Australian Open, Montpellier, Marseille and Miami, won one match at Indian Wells, and failed to qualify for Rotterdam. However, he has found his feet on clay! Tsitsipas could only reach the second round in his first clay court event of the year in Monte Carlo, losing to Goffin in two tight sets, but he cut lose in Barcelona, making the final before falling to Nadal. A semi-final in Estoril followed, but Tsitsipas was cooled a bit by a first round loss to Evgeny Donskoy, who won 7-6 in the third set. Required to play qualifiers in Rome, the Greek scored two fine wins against Mikhail Kukushkin and Madrid quarter finalist, Dusan Lajovic to get into the main draw, where he opens against Coric.

It’s a first ever meeting between Tsitsipas and Coric and what an intriguing battle it should be. Coric’s forehand has improved massively this year, but how will it hold up against Tsitsipas’ forehand, which has been a revelation this year? And how will Tsitsipas’ single-handed backhand match up to Coric’s rock solid two-hander? I like Coric here- beyond the backhands and the forehands, he is a superb mover and a fine defender, traits that are always useful on clay. Coric looks too solid at the moment, he’s tough to hit through at the back of the court; and has added a very potent offensive edge to his game since the start of the year.

Borna Coric vs Stefanos Tsitsipas is live from Rome on Tuesday, 15 May from 2:00pm local time/ 1:00pm BST

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Borna Coric vs Stefanos Tsitsipas ATP Rome Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: In-form young guns, Coric and Tsitsipas meet in Rome R1

Borna Coric takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas in the opening round of the Rome Masters. Who will win the battle of the in-form young guns? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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