Guillermo Coria

Born: January 13, 1982 in Rufino (Santa Fe)
Height: 1.75 m
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
A shooting star… As a junior, Coria achieved a ranking of No. 2 in singles (reaching the final of the Orange Bowl ’98 at the age of 16) and No. 5 in doubles. Andre Agassi and Marcelo Ríos were among his idols at the time, and he had the opportunity to play against both of them. Therefore, when he transitioned to the professional level, there were high expectations for him. In the first few years on the tour he was often compared to Carlos Moyá and even earned the nickname “mini Moya” due to alleged facial similarities, game-style and loose clothing. There were assumptions that he would follow in Moyá’s footsteps and become a Roland Garros champion.
In his first ATP event in Mallorca of 2000, Coria faced Moyá, a native Mallorcan. He concluded that season with four consecutive titles at the Challenger level in South America, leading to a change in his nickname to “El Mago” (The Magician). It became evident to everyone that Coria possessed exceptional talent; his agility and finesse on the court were truly remarkable.
His early career was marked by rapid success and media attention, including winning his first ATP title in only his sixth main-level event, reaching the semifinals of Monte Carlo in tenth (where he lost to Gustavo Kuerten – a few weeks later they met in the French Open first round; it was a brutal draw for Coria, he’d been expected to reach the quarterfinal despite being unseeded which is a rarity). However, his journey was not without setbacks. In April 2001, Coria tested positive for nandrolone after a three-hour lost match in Barcelona to Michel Kratochvil. Initially banned from tennis for two years and fined, Coria claimed that the banned substance was unintentionally ingested through a multivitamin supplement from a New Jersey company.
In December 2001, despite his appeals, the ATP refused to fully acquit Coria but reduced his ban to seven months, allowing him to resume his career in March 2002. However, this hiatus resulted in a significant drop in his world ranking from No. 25 to No. 198. The year 2002 served as a rebuilding period for Coria, during which he mixed ATP events with Challengers and finished ranked No. 45, i.a. playing the longest “best of three” final in the 00s (Costa do Sauipe).
The years 2003-2005 were defining for Coria as he established himself as a dominant force on clay courts, earning him the moniker “prince of clay” (fitting because in the most successful years he played with the Prince racquet). After defeating his childhood hero, he suffered a surprising loss in the Roland Garros ’03 semifinal to Martin Verkerk (where Coria faced the threat of being defaulted after the first set for throwing his racquet towards a ball kid). Shortly afterwards the young Argentine displayed an astonishing level of determination & consistency in the summer of ’03; he dominated the clay-court circuit, capturing three titles in three consecutive weeks: Stuttgart, Kitzbühel and Sopot, without even being forced to play a tie-break! This remarkable streak bolstered his self-confidence, which soon translated to success on other surfaces as well. Coria’s newfound assurance propelled him to the quarterfinals of the US Open and even saw him clinch a title on carpet (!) under rather fortunate circumstances; in the second round of Basel, he narrowly defeated Michaël Llodra, and then his friend David Nalbandian withdrew from the final, paving the way for Coria’s unexpected triumph. In 2004, after suffering a blister on his right hand during a match against Roger Federer in Hamburg, his 31-match winning streak on clay came to an end. Despite being a favorite to win the French Open, he ultimately lost the final to fellow Argentine Gaston Gaudio in a surreal match.
The disappointment from the French Open final took a toll on Coria mentally, affecting his performance for the remainder of the season. Although he showed flashes of brilliance in 2005, he failed to maintain his status as the top player on clay, losing two big finals (Monte Carlo, Rome) to the rising star, embodied in Rafael Nadal. His unexpected defeat by Nikolay Davydenko in the fourth round of the French Open further dented his confidence, and he struggled to regain his form, nevertheless he managed to add the last title (Umag) to his résumé, and third year running – wearing a super tight T-shirt – took part in the season-ending ‘Masters’ event where he quickly lost all his three matches like a year before.
The year 2006 marked a dramatic downturn in career of the 24-year-old Argentine. From being hailed as a clay-court genius, potential multiple French Open champion, he turbulently descended into mediocrity on his beloved surface. His decline was highlighted by losses to much lower-ranked players, such as Alessio di Mauro in Acapulco, where he committed an unusually high number of 16 double faults in two short sets! Strange incidents, such as his extraordinary comeback against Paul-Henri Mathieu or a sudden withdrawal against Michał Przysiężny in Sopot (by the way, it is the only case when I saw a player celebrating a victory after opponent’s retirement), signalled that something bad happened to him physically & mentally… the unexpected end of his career appeared on the horizon.
Following a Bangkok defeat in 2009 (Challenger), he never appeared again as a professional player, it was his only tournament that year, following just two in 2007 and eleven in 2008. Federico Coria, Guillermo’s brother who is ten years his junior, has endeavoured to follow in his brother’s footsteps, but his results have yet to come close to matching Guillermo’s achievements.
Career record: 218–114 [ 117 events ]
Career titles: 9
Highest ranking: No. 3
Best GS results:
Roland Garros (runner-up 04; semifinal 2003)
US Open (quarterfinal 2003, 05)
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1 Response to Guillermo Coria

  1. Voo de Mar says:
    Activity: 2000 – 2008

    Five-setters: 6–4 (60%)
    Tie-breaks: 55–43 (56%)
    Deciding 3rd set TB: 5-5 (50%)

    MP matches: 5-2
    Defeats by retirement: 12
    Walkovers given: 2

    Longest victory: French Open ’03 (4R)… Mariano Zabaleta 6-4, 7-6, 5-7, 6-7, 6-3… 4 hours 41 minutes
    Longest defeat: Rome ’05 (F)… Rafael Nadal 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7… 5 hours 14 minutes

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