Coric's class not a match for grass yet

London - When the discussion turns to the players likely to fill the gap when Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and their like finally retire, one youngster's name emerges more often than many of his peers.

Borna Coric is a tennis player blessed with extreme talent and, at 18, many an admirer.

The Croat ended last year as the ATP World Tour's Star of Tomorrow and began this year by stating his aim to crack the world's top 50.

Before June is out, he already stands in 39th position. And when Djokovic singles out a newcomer for praise, it is time to take notice.

"Coric is one of the most talented players and probably the youngster who stands out," the world No. 1 said. "He beat Rafael Nadal in Basle last year and Andy Murray in Dubai this year.

"I try to help him because I see, in a way, myself through him.

"I've never felt that way when I practise with somebody as I felt with him. It's like playing myself.

"Great fighting spirit, disciplined, focused, committed, very young but confident, which is important. He's a good boy and I think he has a bright future if he is able to stay on the pathway he's on right now."

However, Djokovic added: "Borna must be patient." Therein lies the most pertinent comment when it comes to playing at Wimbledon which starts tomorrow.

Coric does not like playing on grass. As a junior, he did not fare badly on the surface, being a quarter-finalist in the Wimbledon juniors event. But he has since been swamped 6-2, 6-0 by Viktor Troicki in Stuttgart and 6-2, 6-1 by Grigor Dimitrov at Hurlingham.

Coric has worked diligently on Wimbledon's practice courts under Thomas Johansson, the former Australian Open champion who is his newly appointed coach, and has been drawn to play Sergiy Stakhovsky in the first round.

Coric can seek some notable advice from his fellow Croat, Goran Ivanisevic, the 2001 Wimbledon champion, who has always made himself available to the youngster. So too has Djokovic.

"It's the low bounce, it's the way I cannot use the top spin, which is always so important to my game, it's the fact that I find moving on grass so difficult because it can be so slippery," Coric said.

The Times, London

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 28, 2015, with the headline 'Coric's class not a match for grass yet'. Print Edition | Subscribe