Borna Coric completed a sparkling comeback to capture his maiden ATP World Tour title at the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech on Sunday and climb back into the top 50.
Runner-up in Marrakech last season, Next Generation star Coric saved five championship points in a dramatic 5-7 7-6(3) 7-5 victory over German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber to land his first piece of ATP singles silverware. Coric came back from a break down in the second and third sets to emerge triumphant in two hours and 38 minutes - the longest final on the ATP World Tour this year.
"I would say that's my biggest comeback, I've never saved five match points," said Coric. "Especially in such an important match, I served very well in the big points. It's an awesome feeling. I didn't know what to expect when I came here and I wasn't in the best shape. But I've been working very hard the past three or four months and now it's paying off."
The 20-year-old Coric is the third first-time winner on the ATP World Tour this year and the sixth player to win a title while saving match point at some stage during the tournament. Coric rises 30 places in the latest ATP rankings to slide back into the top 50 at No. 49.
Elsewhere, Steve Johnson moved into the top 25 after securing his second career title in a gruelling three-set showdown in the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship final at Houston.
Arriving late into Houston earlier this week due to Davis Cup commitments for the USA in Brisbane, Australia last weekend, Johnson battled through severe cramping to edge Thomaz Bellucci 6-4 4-6 7-6(5) in Sunday’s thrilling title match.
“To win on U.S. soil and win when you’re not feeling great is a testament to my willpower and competitiveness,” said Johnson. “My body has just physically run out of gas after this week. Coming in from Australia kind of put me behind the eight ball and then the nerves of trying to close out the final, a lot of factors go into cramping. I was very fortunate to get out of that.”
The win hands Johnson his second ATP World Tour title and his first on clay after he won on the grass of Nottingham last year. Bellucci was aiming to become the first player since Martin Verkerk in 2004 at Amersfoot to win the title with five three-set wins. The Brazilian rises 12 spots in the rankings to No. 53.
In other ranking movements, Rafael Nadal has slipped two spots to No. 7 in the world due to the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters being played a week before last year. If Nadal can defend his Monte Carlo title this week, he will move back into the top five. Last year’s Monte Carlo runner-up Gael Monfils has also fallen five places to No. 16 for the same reason.
World No. 1 Andy Murray and World No. 2 Novak Djokovic make their respective tour returns from elbow injuries in Monte Carlo this week, alongside Nadal and Stan Wawrinka.
Emirates ATP World Tour rankings – top 20 as of Monday 17 April, 2017
1. Andy Murray
2. Novak Djokovic
3. Stan Wawrinka
4. Roger Federer
5. Kei Nishikori (+2)
6. Milos Raonic
7. Rafael Nadal (-2)
8. Marin Cilic
9. Dominic Thiem
10. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
11. Grigor Dimitrov (+1)
12. Tomas Berdych (+1)
13. David Goffin (+1)
14. Jack Sock (+2)
15. Nick Kyrgios
16. Gael Monfils (-5)
17. Lucas Pouille
18. Roberto Bautista Agut
19. Pablo Carreno Busta
20. Alexander Zverev