Borna Coric and Jenson Brooksby will square off on Thursday in what is arguably the most anticipated matchup of the US Open second round.
It’s hard to identify a better story on the ATP tour than Borna Coric this season. After a one year layoff caused by a shoulder injury, the Croatian was out of the Top 250 and losing in challengers to guys ranked outside Top 300 just a couple of months ago. And then came the Cincinnati masters in mid August, when Coric sprung one of the biggest shocks in tennis history by winning the title with victories over Musetti, Nadal, Bautista Agut, Auger Aliassime, Norrie and Tsitsipas. It was a dream week by Coric and he (kind of) backed it up by qualifying for the US Open second round, although his 5 set win over Enzo Couacaud was far from impressive.
Jenson Brooksby is having a solid season with plenty of deep runs in ATP and ATP Masters tournaments, including a final during this US hard court swing (last month in Atlanta, lost to De Minaur). Brooksby was a bit shaky after Atlanta though, losing three out of his next 4 matches before demolishing Lajovic in the US Open first round (6-2 6-0 3-0 ret.).
This will be the first H2H meeting between the two players. Both are expert hard courters, but Brooksby will have the crowd behind him, so that will be an advantage.
I am not convinced that Coric can replicate his Cincinnati form so soon. That week was something else indeed, but staying consistent is a whole different matter, and we have seen it with many players, plenty of times throughout history, in similar situations. There’s also the physical factor. Coric had one week off after Cincinnati, but that was an enormous physical task for him after a one year layoff and playing without rhythm for most of this season. He definitely wasn’t used to such grueling weeks anymore.
Coric’s first round match against the 193rd ranked Couacaud comes to prove the above hypothesis. Borna started well, but ran out of steam after going up 2-0, and quite honestly he should have lost that match. Couacaud was the better player in the last three sets, he always had the advantage, he served for the match, but he simply folded under pressure and chocked away the win of his life.
The level Coric showed in the first round would be nowhere near enough to beat Brooksby.
The American benefited from Lajovic being hurt in his opening match here, but it was still a flawless performance by him. Brooksby seemed to be at a very good level and ready to repeat (or improve) on last year’s result, when he reached the 4th round at the Open. He loves the venue and is the kind of player who draws energy from the crowd – especially the New York crowd!
Expect some quality shotmaking here from both sides, but despite Coric’s dream week at Cincinnati, I think Brooksby is the better player right now. He also has the fans on his side and, very importantly, he should have the edge in terms of fitness. This will be a physically demanding match with intense rallies, and I just can’t see Coric being able to sustain yet another long battle. If it goes the distance, I would expect him to fold.
My tip will be Brooksby to win. Prediction: Borna Coric – Jenson Brooksby 6-7 6-3 3-6 2-6.