Re: El Fragile is gone, Taylor Dent wins 6-3 6-4
Coria a puzzle (to non-Latins)
By Ian Katz
Posted March 28 2005
KEY BISCAYNE · It was late afternoon the Sunday before the start of the Nasdaq-100 Open, and a shirtless, bulked-up Guillermo Coria wouldn't stop chattering.
Except for a couple of matter-of-fact observations as his stadium court practice was winding down -- "I can't hit a serve into the court" -- Coria's monologue to his coach and a few friends was about his favorite tricks.
Holding his racket perpendicular to the ground, Coria balanced a ball on the side of the racket frame for several seconds, thrust the ball into the air, quickly grabbed the racket by its head and hit the ball nearly out of the stadium with the racket grip. "Ahi esta." There it is, Coria said in Spanish.
This was not the quiet, slight Argentine who is an enigma to many tennis fans. The fifth-ranked Coria, last year's losing Nasdaq-100 finalist (to Andy Roddick), is little known outside Latin America in part because he is the rare top player who does not speak to reporters in English.
Among those who follow tennis, Coria is El Mago, the magician, for his speed and touch. Andre Agassi, on the tour since 1986, calls the 5-foot-9 Coria "the fastest I've ever played against," including speedsters Michael Chang and Lleyton Hewitt.
To casual fans, Coria, 23, is the guy who let last year's French Open slip away. In fact, more than any men's player, Coria has demons to erase.
At last year's French on slow red clay, Coria was on his way to one of the event's most impressive runs. Going into the final against countryman Gaston Gaudio, Coria had lost just one of 19 sets in his six matches.
After taking a 6-0, 6-3 lead, Coria "became nervous," he said after the match. "I couldn't control [it]." The nerves gave Coria leg cramps, and Gaudio equaled the match at two sets. In the fifth set, Gaudio saved two match points -- almost hitting a couple of shots out during those points -- and won 8-6.
Coria was devastated. "I had the match in my hands," he said.
Argentine tennis cognoscenti believe that Coria has recovered.
"I think he's over it," said Franco Davin, who once coached Coria and now coaches Gaudio. "He's such a great player and competitor, he'll be fine."
Gustavo Flores, a sports writer with Clarin, Argentina's largest newspaper, said Coria is learning not to take losses so hard. "He's maturing," Flores said.
Guillermo Salatino, a tennis journalist with Fox Sports, is emphatic: "Coria will win the French this year."
Coria, for his part, said after his second-round victory over Italy's Davide Sanguinetti at the Nasdaq on Saturday that he is "hungry" for the clay-court season that starts after the Nasdaq and culminates in the French Open in June.
He said he has gained seven pounds of muscle since January, though he still weighs 150, light for a top player. Against Sanguinetti, Coria regularly cracked first serves over 125 mph, several miles an hour faster than last year.
To become better known in this country, Coria will probably have to speak English. Though he understands the language and speaks reasonably well, he isn't comfortable speaking it with the media. Typically after a match, he gives a brief press conference for English-language media during which his answers are roughly translated.
Then he gathers with Argentine journalists, many of whom follow Coria to tournaments and have known him for years. The result is a huge gap between what Latin American sports fans and the rest of world know about Coria.
For example, the English transcript of Coria's news conference Saturday included: "It's very humid. It's not easy to play when it's so humid."
But Coria was more interesting with Spanish-speaking reporters. He told them he thought that bad line calls favored him and cost Sanguinetti a few points and that he suffered an upset stomach early in the second set after drinking an orange-flavored electrolyte liquid used by many of the top Spaniards.
Though not as introspective as Agassi or as comedic as Marat Safin, Coria is forthcoming and articulate. But to fans north of the border, El Mago remains a mystery.
source: sun sentinel
Q. When you've played as few matches as you have over the last two, three months, did you ever lack motivation to go out and practice?
ANDY RODDICK: Motivation? No. I enjoy what I do. I enjoy what I do. You know, I've never been one to, you know, blow off practice or, you know, do anything like that.
You know, I'd be lying if I said I'm looking forward to practicing the next two days as opposed to playing here. That part is gonna suck...(2010 Aegon Championships)