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Coric vs Hurkacz tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Ninth seed Coric in for tough Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters opener

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 13 Apr 2019
  • Borna Coric faces Hubert Hurkacz in the first round of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters
  • Coric vs Hurkacz is live from Monte Carlo on Sunday at 11am local/10am BST
Borna Coric (PA Sport)

Hubert Hurkacz has upset some good players on hard courts in 2019 – can he bring the same form to clay as he takes on ninth seed Borna Coric at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters?

Ninth seed Borna Coric plays the first main-draw match of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters on Court Rainer III against rising Pole Hubert Hurkacz on Sunday.

Coric is poised in perhaps the weakest quarter of the draw in terms of the top seeds, with Kei Nishikori – runner-up in 2018 but not playing great lately – and the out-of-form third seed Alexander Zverev bracketing this quarter and creating opportunity for a surprise semifinalist to come through. Can Coric take advantage?

Borna Coric
The Croatian, currently ranked world no. 13, made his first Masters 1000 Series final at last year’s Shanghai Rolex Masters when he beat Roger Federer for the second time that season in the semifinals, having already defeated him in the final of the Gerry Weber Open. Also a semifinalist at the Indian Wells Masters in 2018, Coric’s 40-20 season seemed to promise that the 22-year-old, who had plateau’d considerably after his initial breakthrough, was staking his claim once more as one of the best of the younger generation.

Coric’s 2019 season so far has not particularly impressed, with a fourth-round defeat to Lucas Pouille at the Australian Open preventing him from making a first Grand Slam quarterfinal; he made the semifinals at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, but was woeful in a 2-6, 2-6 defeat to Federer. Coric failed to defend his Indian Wells points, losing his opening match to Ivo Karlovic, and although he made the quarterfinals in Miami, it felt like it had a lot to do with his opponents playing poorly rather than him playing particularly well himself; he lost to Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarterfinals.

The clay season, however, offers a chance for a fresh start and Coric does play decently on clay, even if his previous results at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters have been a little on the feeble side – he is 1-4 at the first clay-court Masters 1000 Series of the season, having lost his opening matches in 2015-17 to Alexandr Dolgopolov, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Jeremy Chardy respectively, and getting his first win over Julien Benneteau last year before losing to Novak Djokovic. 

Coric won his first ATP Tour title on clay in Marrakech in 2017, and has also been a quarterfinalist at the Madrid Masters the same year when he beat defending champion and top seed Andy Murray. But if he is to produce his first good results at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters in 2019, he will have to get past Hubert Hurkacz in the first round – not a lucky draw.

Hurkacz’s was not a name that was tremendously familiar to many before this year. He broke into the top 100 for the first time towards the end of 2018 after a great year on the Challenger Tour, which included titles in Brest and Posnan, but he hadn’t played too many ATP Tour events. 

Hubert Hurkacz (PA Sport)
That’s changed in 2019: Although Hurkacz has played two Challenger Tour events, winning Canberra in January before losing in the first round of the Australian Open to Ivo Karlovic in four tie-break sets, it’s his ATP Tour results which see him on the brink of breaking into the top 50 for the first time. 

He got his first win over a top-10 opponent, Nishikori, on his way to the quarterfinals of the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships; he beat Australian Open semifinalist Lucas Pouille, Nishikori again and Denis Shapovalov to make the quarterfinals of the Indian Wells Masters, then beat Indian Wells champion Dominic Thiem to make the third round in Miami before falling to Auger-Aliassime.

Hurkacz has a slightly better record on clay than Coric – he is 58-33 to the Croatian’s 55-37 – but against those numbers must be balanced the fact that for the majority of those matches, Hurkacz was playing at a significantly lower level than Coric. By comparison, Hurkacz has only played nine matches again top-100 opponents on clay, winning four of them; Coric has played 60 matches against top-100 opponents on clay, winning 30 of them.

This will be the first meeting between Coric and Hurkacz, and it sets up quite a nice contrast in styles; Hurkacz relies heavily on his booming serve and first-strike tennis, unleashing his big forehand; Coric’s main strength, in the Djokovic mould, is his lack of weaknesses, his ability to defend without sacrificing depth on the ball or position on the court and his backhand is his stronger wing. It will be absolutely key for him to serve well, because he cannot rely on too many opportunities to break the Hurkacz serve, and for him to stay aggressive and up on the baseline. It feels like Coric should be the favourite, but he’s not playing with anything like the kind of confidence and conviction Hurkacz displayed on American hard courts. Has that transferred to clay, or can the ninth seed stamp his authority on this one?

Coric vs Hurkacz Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters tennis is live on Sunday at 11am local/10am BST

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Coric vs Hurkacz tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Ninth seed Coric in for tough Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters opener

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