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By Marco Madonia | Saturday, October 17, 2020

 
Borna Coric

Borna Coric scored a 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 comeback conquest of Milos Raonic to reach his second straight St. Petersburg final where he'll face third-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev.

Photo credit: Dan Huerlimann/Beelde Images

Borna Coric played first-class returns to rally into his second straight St. Petersburg final.

Blown out in the opening set, Coric adjusted his positioning scoring a 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 comeback conquest of Milos Raonic in today's St. Petersburg semifinals.

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Coric withstood 18 aces from the big-serving Canadian a day after he survived 16 aces downsizing 6'11" Reilly Opelka in the quarterfinals.

Down a set today, Coric tore through five straight games to start the second set then served out the set at 15 to force a final set.

The seventh-seeded Croatian broke for a 3-2 lead in the decider.

Though Coric struck just four aces in the match he won a higher percentage of both first and second serves than Raonic. On match point, Coric cracked a forehand crosscourt improving his St. Petersburg record to 7-2.




Empowered by his run to his first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the US Open last month, Coric will play fellow US Open quarterfinalist Andrey Rublev in tomorrow's final.

In a clash of two of tennis' top young talents, Rublev repelled five of six break points defeating Denis Shapovalov 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Tennis Express

Rublev raised his record to 33-7 on the season.

The third-seeded Russian, who topped Stefanos Tsitsipas to win Hamburg on red clay last month, will play for his fourth title of the season tomorrow.

At the outset, Shapovalov struck with more depth and conviction.

Shapovalov swept forward with a pair of fine stretch backhand volleys gaining double break point in the crucial seventh game. Rublev showed his class repelling the second break point with a crackling running forehand pass and a clenched fist.

The Canadian kept cranking his forehand with menacing intentions. Firing a forehand winner down the line, Shapovalov earned another break point. This time, he cornered the Russian on the backhand side and drilled another forehand winner breaking for 4-3.

A dropping serve, a raging Rublev smashed his water bottle and spent some of the ensuing changeover wiping up the water from the blue court. Clean-up time prompted a near four-minute delay before Shapovalov stepped up to serve, but did not let the delay slow his roll.

Serving for the set, Shapovalov rocketed some heavy serves to close out the 45-minute opening set at 15.


US Open quarterfinalist Shapovalov was his own worst enemy squandering a 40-love lead and dumping four double faults as he gifted the break and a 3-1 second-set lead to Rublev.

The Russian held firm forcing the decider.

Three games into the third set, a loud fan started clapping as Shapovalov was about to serve. On break point, Rublev ripped a return right near the baseline forcing a framed error to break for 3-2.

Incensed by the unruly fan, Shapovalov began walking toward the man yelling “Get out! Get out!” before chair umpire Richard Hague told the Canadian “I’ll take care of it.”

Rublev exploited the interruption backing up the break for 4-2 and eventually closed the set.

The 10th-ranked Russian won 12 of the final 14 points played on his serve to even his career head-to-head with Shapovalov at 2-2.




Rublev has not dropped a set in three prior meetings vs. Coric as he continues his quest to lock down a spot in the elite eight of the ATP Finals in London next month.


 

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