Croatia’s Borna Coric saved six match points to stun fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7(2), 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(4) in the third round of the US Open in a late-night finish.
In the middle of the fourth set Coric, who had played another dramatic and draining five-setter in the previous round, looked down and out. Tsitsipas had taken a seemingly insurmountable 5-1 lead and looked well in charge of the match.
But nerves seemed to shackle the Greek as failed to serve out the match twice, at 5-2, and then again at 5-4. In the 10th game, serving at 5-4, Tsitsipas had even built a 40-0 lead and held three match-points before he inexplicably let up the intensity.
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“This is probably the saddest and funniest at the same time thing that has ever happened in my career!” tweeted Tsitsipas after the match.
“I have to be honest and say that I was really lucky. I made some unbelievable returns and I was a little bit lucky at the end,” Coric said.
“In the third and fourth set, he was playing unbelievable tennis and I felt like I had no chance. In the fifth-set tie-break, I knew it was not going to be easy for him, so I tried to just keep the ball in court and make him play as many balls as possible.”
Coric moved to 6-4 in five-set matches, while Tsitsipas dropped to 1-3 after suffering one of the most heartbreaking losses of his career.
Only 48 hours ago, the Croat, who recovered from Coronavirus this summer, had rallied from two-sets-to-one down to defeat Juan Ignacio Londero 7-5, 4-6, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3 in four hours and 19 minutes. The 23-year-old Coric again went toe-to-toe with Tsitsipas for four hours and 36 minutes for a stunning victory.
Next up for Coric is Jordan Thompson, who defeated Mikhail Kukushkin 7-5, 6-4, 6-1 to reach the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time.
For Tsitsipas, who hit more winners (59 to 53) and fewer unforced errors (42 to 50), the struggle in New York continues. He has never made it to the second week at the US Open; the third round finish this year is his best so far at the Grand Slam.
Men’s third round
27-Borna Coric d 4-Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7 (2), 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (4)
12-Denis Shapovalov d 19-Taylor Fritz 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2
1-Novak Djokovic d 28-Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3, 6-3, 6-1
5-Alexander Zverev d 32-Adrian Mannarino 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2, 6-2
Women’s third round
4-Naomi Osaka d Marta Kostyuk 6-3, 2-7 (4), 6-2
6-Petra Kvitova d Jessica Pegula 6-4, 6-3
8-Petra Martic d Varvara Gracheva 6-3, 6-3
17-Angelique Kerber d Ann Li 6-3, 6-4
28-Jennifer Brady d Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-3