Tuesday, May 26, 2015

French Open - clay tennis champions, Guillermo Coria

     Guillermo Coria had something special even though he never won the French open. He was amazingly quick. He could out defense Nadal on clay. If Djokovic can't do it at the 2015 French Open especially after Nadal's weak spring season, then when will he ever? Who will? Federer played the Coria brand of tennis to win in 2009. And this is the same French Open Djokovic is entering as Federer and Agassi when they won their first and only French Open titles respectively.

      I find Coria's not missing style of play with flatter shots more exciting than Nadal's looping shots in the center of the court or always to the backhand. Coria could hit line after line and wasn't afraid of a player's forehand. Because he could run lightning quick. This is entertaining to watch. A tennis player who was at his true potential. Coria couldn't bother with developing a massive serve and forehand because he was slighter of frame. But his technique and disguise for his size make those shots average on the tour. Coria could run down anything and had great disguise with the drop shot. He could then use his hands for a slow angled winner. He had the ability to hit shots with great power or slow angle with no indication of the shot he was going to play. David Ferrer can dictate more on his forehand but not on his backhand than Coria. And on the run he is weaker. But as always David is a pleasure to watch on clay during the 2015 French Open. I would like to see more of Marcelo Rios at the French Open. His any angle is possible no matter the score or his court position brand of tennis was magical. If anyone has links to Marcelo Rios matches please post in the comments below. But back to Coria.

     His match vs Tim Henman at the French Open 2004. Was highly entertaining. He hit every line. And had wide variety of shots. He even went on a 13 game run against Tim Henman who was arguably playing some of best tennis of his life. In addition, Coria's resume is also comprised of two epic matches against Nadal in 2005. Boy! If you want to see quality clay court tennis and see Nadal face his equal on clay. Then search 2005 Montecarlo final. In the Montecarlo final Coria accomplishes the rare feat of winning a 6-0 set against an in form Nadal on clay. And 2005 Rome Final. The Rome final lasted 5 hours 14 minutes! Inspiring tennis.

      But one Coria match I will look at is the one below.
2003 French Open Quarterfinal between Andre Agassi and Guillermo Coria




      Guillermo Coria hits down the line with tremendous pace regardless of the ball's height to him. He can redirect the ball without losing pace, in fact he gains pace. He demonstrates gifted timing. He even does the jumping backhand that Marcelo Rios started.

      Who would have thought at the time that Agassi would have a chance against Coria on clay. But he had owned him going into the match. Agassi had beat him numerous times on hard courts, including the 2003 Australian Open. And later that year at the 2003 US Open. Agassi plays the better tennis of the two to win the first set 6-4. He pummels the ball on the run. Coria gets EVERYTHING back and can change direction with pace on both sides. Sometimes his shots loop and land short but mostly his shots land deep. And he has amazing pinpoint accuracy with them. And Guillermo Coria has a personal style that countless clay court specialists will copy to this day.  You can see this whenever you watch the 2015 French Open and watch a player with a backwards cap, makes the same grunting exhale, and same facial mannerisms. That person was influenced by Guillermo Coria. In much the same way Coria was influenced by his namesake Guillermo Vilas while growing up in Argentina.

      At one point Agassi shows off his deft touch. But he is about to be out done with Coria's cat and mouse game at the net. Coria will consistently show greater touch and wheels. No drop shot is out of Coria's reach. He skillfully runs up and hits a winner each time. This was the beauty of play shown in the highlights of the Guillermo Coria vs Carlos Moya match a year later in 2004. If anyone has that match please upload it and paste it in the comments below.

      Coria started to take control by just playing the similar style of the two players a little better. Agassi never went away or made much errors. If two players have similar styles and one plays a little better the score can be a blow out. I won't give the final score so as not to ruin for anyone who simply stays on this page. This match was enjoyable to watch because you can't make a player run more or work the point better than Agassi consistently does in this match. He hits the ball hard to each corner and then hits a punishing finish shot. He knows Coria will track it down so he is at the net to put it away. No overhead or volley was out of Coria's reach. Coria could skillfully hit an angle or dip the ball at Agassi's feet. Pupils of tennis, take notes on the clipboard from this clay court battle. The patterns of play especially, will make you a better tennis player.