PARIS, May 28 (Reuters) - Borna Coric would like to eat a tiramisu, perhaps even explore some of Paris’s night spots like most 18-year-olds, but what the Croatian really wants is to become the best player in the world.
As progress goes, he is making huge strides towards that goal and took another leap on Thursday when he beat Spain’s Tommy Robredo, the 18th seed, in five sets at the French Open to reach the third round of a grand slam for the first time.
Coric, ranked 46th and boasting past wins over Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray, looks at home amongst the world’s best players and it is hard to believe he is making his French Open debut.
The maturity he has shown in beating American Sam Querrey in round one and following up with a 7-5 3-6 6-2 4-6 6-4 over former top-tenner and five-times Roland Garros quarter-finalist Robredo hides the fact that this is only his third grand slam.
World number one Novak Djokovic says Coric reminds him of himself at the same age, and the single-mindedness that great players have is clearly already there.
“He does have a very professional, very mature way of approaching, not just matches, but the tennis life in general, which is nice to see for somebody his age,” said Djokovic on Thursday. “It’s not that usual to see that.”
Coric takes the compliment in his stride, just as he has pretty much everything since turning professional.
“It means a lot when someone like him, one of the best in history, says nice things, it helps your confidence that someone like him says I can be the next big player,” said Coric, who is now coached by Swede Thomas Johansson.
”I‘m trying to be like him. If you want to be the best you have to have that thing where you know you can’t do some things. I would like a tiramisu now, but I can‘t, would like to go out with my friends, but I can‘t, I need to recover.
“That’s quite normal for me, I think I was born with that. I’ve been like that 90 percent of my life.”
Coric, who reached the semi-finals in Nice before Roland Garros, said beating Robredo rated as one of his best wins.
“I played for very good tennis for the whole match, I wasn’t nervous, I wasn’t afraid to lose,” he said. (Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)