Borna Coric weathered an early storm from Milos Raonic on Saturday to reach his second straight St. Petersburg Open final.
The seventh seed found himself down a set in just 37 minutes, but produced an impressive 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 comeback to record his seventh win in nine matches at the ATP 500. Coric is through to his seventh ATP Tour championship match (2-4) and will attempt to improve on his runner-up finish at this event last year.
Coric earned three straight comeback wins en route to last year’s final, before falling to Daniil Medvedev in the championship match. The Croatian has experience of improving on runner-up finishes, having claimed his maiden ATP Tour crown at the 2017 Grand Prix Hassan II one year after losing the 2016 final.
Coric levels his ATP Head2Head series against Raonic at 1-1. The World No. 27 lost his only previous ATP Head2Head clash against the 29-year-old at the 2017 Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com.
Raonic was also aiming to reach his second St. Petersburg championship match. On his tournament debut in 2015, the Canadian beat Joao Sousa to capture his fifth and most recent indoor ATP Tour trophy.
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For the second straight match, Raonic broke serve in his opening two return games. The Canadian powered through Coric’s defence with inside-out forehands and capitalised on forehand errors from his opponent to take control of the match. Raonic also moved to the net well, finishing multiple points with overhead winners to claim the first set.
Raonic entered the second set having won all 33 service games he had played in the tournament, but Coric turned the tables on the 29-year-old to get back in the match. The Croatian took advantage of double faults and found his targets when Raonic approached the net to earn back-to-back breaks. Coric sealed the second set with his third ace of the match.
Coric struggled with his timing and was forced to save three break points in his first service game of the third set. But the two-time ATP Tour titlist soon rediscovered the form he showed in the second set, extracting errors from Raonic in extended rallies with great court coverage to claim a crucial break. Coric converted his first match point with a cross-court forehand winner.