Borna Coric ended Daniel Altmaier’s dream run at the Mutua Madrid Open on Wednesday evening. The 17th seed eliminated the lucky loser 6-3, 6-3 to set a semi-final clash against top seed and defending champion Carlos Alcaraz.
“I always love to play here in Madrid. I have very, very nice memories from here and I knew I could play well,” Coric said in his on-court interview. “I came here very early to prepare myself for the tournament, as it’s, I would say, a little bit different to the next tournaments. I’m just very happy to be in the semi-finals.”
Coric’s experience on the big stage showed inside Manolo Santana Stadium. The 26-year-old, who lifted his maiden ATP Masters 1000 trophy last year in Cincinnati, earned a service break in his second return game and never looked back to triumph after one hour and 14 minutes.
Appearing in the Madrid quarter-finals for the second time — he did so in 2017 as a lucky loser — Coric took full advantage of his opportunity. The Zagreb-native dominated behind his first serve and did not face a break point against his German opponent.
Altmaier arrived in the Spanish capital with one main draw Masters 1000 win on his resume, and he lost in the final round of qualifying to Jurij Rodionov. But after entering the draw as a lucky loser, the 24-year-old surged to the quarter-finals without losing a set.
However, he struggled to find consistency from the baseline early against Coric and that proved costly. Altmaier double faulted away the first break of the match at 1-2 and struggled to get back on terms from there. The German showed plenty of power with his one-handed backhand, but with his deep return position was never able to put much pressure on the Croatian’s service games in the first set.
That changed as the match wore on, when Altmaier was able to put pressure on the Coric forehand, the less steady of the 17th seed’s groundstrokes. But after securing an early break, the three-time ATP Tour titlist made timely shots, including a beautiful backhand lob to get out of trouble at 3-2 40/40.
The quick win was a welcome reprieve for Coric, who needed three hours and 28 minutes to oust home favourite Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in Tuesday’s fourth round. Coric won 90 per cent of his first-serve points and will hope to find the same level of success against Alcaraz, whom he will play for the first time.
“He’s absolutely an unbelievable player in unbelievable shape in the moment as well,” Coric said. “So he’s the favourite and I’m going to just go out there and I’m going to enjoy himself. I like to play here in this stadium and it’s going to be a very cool feeling for sure.”