Coric defeated Tsitsipas 7-6(0), 6-2 in Sunday’s Western & Southern Open finals in Cincinnati by dominating the baseline change on the ad court. The engine room of Coric’s game has always been a rock solid backhand and he led with his powerful suit to win his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title.
Coric was always keen to compete with Tsitsipas, with the Croatian proving to be more consistent and stronger.
Coric backhand groundstrokes
- 86 backhand
- 4 errors
- 10 winners
Tsitsipa’s backhand groundstrokes
- 94 backhand
- 15 errors
- 0 winners
Tsitsipas raced to a 4-1 lead after 16 minutes after hitting his first 16 backhands of the game. The Greek then went through a period where he missed four backhands out of five, and the early break and momentum quickly dried up. Coric’s backhands went into lockdown mode for the remainder of the set, making his last 25 backhands of the opener, including four winners.
Overall, Coric’s backhand groundstroke produced 10 winners for the match while only making four errors. Tsitsipas failed to hit a single backhand groundstroke winner and committed 15 errors. Coric’s average backhand speed was 70 mph, which was significantly faster than Tsitsipas’ 60 mph. In fact, Coric’s average backhand speed was just a mph slower than Tsitsipas’ average forehand speed (71 mph) and almost as fast as his own forehand (72 mph average).
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The Croatian felt at home as he stood on the ad court, smashing backhands and hitting a high and heavy back cross court with his encircling forehand. Coric had the perfect game plan to nullify and frustrate Tsitsipas’ powerful play, letting the ball flow back and forth through the ad space until the right ball presented itself to attack elsewhere.
Coric hit 43 run-around forehands for the match, which was almost identical to Tsitsipas’ 44. That stat alone is a win for Coric, as Tsitsipas possesses a more penetrating forehand that can do more damage as a run-around shot. Both players hit five winners and made five mistakes with forehands.
The champion’s minor weakness in the match was hitting regular forehands that were on the deuce place. He hit 69 forehands for the match that was there, hitting three winners and contributing 14 errors. The deuce-court exchanges favored Tsitsipas overall, but with Coric hitting 65 percent (129/198) of all groundstrokes in ad court, Tsitsipas couldn’t execute his favored strategy often enough.
Coric was just more dominant from behind. He gained 56 percent (46/82) of his base points while Tsitsipas was far from that mark, gaining just 41 percent (29/71) from baseline.
The 25-year-old also enjoyed serving as he went after Tsitsipas’ backhand backhand.
- Forehand Returns = 24, including five errors
- Backhand returns = 37, including 11 errors
Tsitsipas hit 61 percent (37/61) of returns as backhand returns, resulting in 11 return errors from that side.
Impressively, Coric managed to execute his preferred play pattern to claim his biggest title. Controlling the ad court with his solid backhand and powerful forehand was always the preferred way to take control of the points against Tsitsipas.
It must feel good to win on the biggest ATP stage with your “go-to” game pattern.