Guillermo Coria, sans yips, 2006-2011

tacou

G.O.A.T.
TLDR: The yips are weird!! What do you think a 25-30 year old Coria would have done, particularly on clay, during his prime years, assuming his serve had not deserted him and he'd followed a relatively normal career path (keep in mind he was a consistent top 5-10 player and top 3-4 on clay when he fell apart, and only 24 years old)?


Most tennis fans know Coria, he's a former No. 3 and slam finalist, not a deep cut. At the very least, fans have heard of the 04 French Open final vs. Gaudio. However, it's rarely mentioned that Coria reached his first final on grass just a couple weeks after that devastating loss, reached 4 additional finals (def. Moya in Umag, lost 3 to Nadal) over the next season or so, and in 2005 joined Federer and Nalbandian as the only players on tour to reach the 4th round or better at all four majors (finished the year at no. 8).

In fact, four consecutive faults prevented Guillermo from reaching a deciding TB at the USO vs. Robbie Ginepri, with the winner advancing to the SF vs. a depleted Agassi. Now, Coria has to NOT df twice, win the TB, and beat Agassi (who survived a 5 setter with Ginepri, iirc) but it's crazy how close he was to another major SF or F, off of clay, more than a year after the loss many credit as having ended his career.

Coria was improving on hard court (and to a lesser extent grass) and had seemingly recovered from whatever mental funk the French Open final might have instilled in him. From 2003-2005, Coria was 90-13 on clay, including a 31 match win streak.

But towards the end of 2005, aged just 24, Coria went on a 2-9 slide, characterized by a ton of double faults. In 2006, he went 11-14, then 0-2 for the rest of his career.

Coria's case is very peculiar. Many associate him with the FO choke, but that really didn't seem to impact his play much. Others have asserted that Nadal's rise to dominance on clay did him in, and while I think there could be something to that, I don't see how how Guillermo could battle him so well in Rome and Monte Carlo, or why his form would start to seriously dip away from clay (HC/indoor season in 05), where he was not facing Nadal. Also, Coria won the tournament in which his service problems began, 2005 Umag, and won numerous matches despite serving TONS of dfs (notably one against Kiefer in which he served close to or more than 30 DFs in just TWO sets!!) -- so he really does not seem like a mentally weak player, more like a player suffering from an uncontrollable glitch.

So, if Coria had never been troubled by the yips, what does 2006-2011 look like for him? I think he'd have become more dangerous than Ferrer and much more consistent than Verdasco. Don't see him getting more than the odd clay Masters win over Nadal, Novak, or Fed, though he could have been a strong no. 4 on the surface and played a role in several memorable RG matches. I also think his HC game would have continued to develop and he probably would have stayed in the top 10 until 2009 or so.
 

Steve0904

Talk Tennis Guru
Don't think he had the weapons necessary to do well consistently on HC and grass tbh. He was great on clay, but as noted I'm not sure he was better than either of Fed or Novak. Hard to see where he fits in considering the era he would've been coming into. He would've added depth though.
 

tacou

G.O.A.T.
Don't think he had the weapons necessary to do well consistently on HC and grass tbh. He was great on clay, but as noted I'm not sure he was better than either of Fed or Novak. Hard to see where he fits in considering the era he would've been coming into. He would've added depth though.
Yeah it is difficult to slot him in exactly right; he was elite on one surface and improving on the others, then simply vanished. I'd never go out on a limb so far as to say he'd've won a slam or anything, but it would have been cool to see another talented player trying to challenge the big 4.

Would have really liked to see him against Murray at places like Miami or Madrid. Those would be longg, beautiful backhand matches.
 

Steve0904

Talk Tennis Guru
Yeah it is difficult to slot him in exactly right; he was elite on one surface and improving on the others, then simply vanished. I'd never go out on a limb so far as to say he'd've won a slam or anything, but it would have been cool to see another talented player trying to challenge the big 4.

Would have really liked to see him against Murray at places like Miami or Madrid. Those would be longg, beautiful backhand matches.
When I say depth I mean that I think he's better on clay than many guys today. I would've liked to see a few clay matches between him and Thiem and Zverev for example. He had some real court craft on the surface, and my opinion is that he would've been better than either of them, but maybe I'm being nostalgic or something, I don't know. Again, hard to say.
 

tacou

G.O.A.T.
When I say depth I mean that I think he's better on clay than many guys today. I would've liked to see a few clay matches between him and Thiem and Zverev for example. He had some real court craft on the surface, and my opinion is that he would've been better than either of them, but maybe I'm being nostalgic or something, I don't know. Again, hard to say.
I agree with you fully.
I actually just watched highlights from his Miami sf vs Gonzalez. Fena was crushing the ball per usual and was up a set and a break, ~5 mps, but Coria managed to win a TB then dogged him in the final set.

Could see many similar matches vs Thiem and Zverev, although Guillermo would have been 33-34 when they started making noise.
 

Steve0904

Talk Tennis Guru
I agree with you fully.
I actually just watched highlights from his Miami sf vs Gonzalez. Fena was crushing the ball per usual and was up a set and a break, ~5 mps, but Coria managed to win a TB then dogged him in the final set.

Could see many similar matches vs Thiem and Zverev, although Guillermo would have been 33-34 when they started making noise.
Yes, that would change everything, but looking at it from a prime vs prime perspective (though I guess we don't really know if we've seen the best of Thiem or Zverev either) I would give Coria good chances.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
His game was based on foot speed and quickness. Not surprising that his level dropped off when his frame filled out and the extra mass slowed his agility.

Unlike Chang and Hewitt, who had underrated forehands and attacking skills, Coria was just a wall retriever wall type player, so his run was less sustainable.
 

tacou

G.O.A.T.
His game was based on foot speed and quickness. Not surprising that his level dropped off when his frame filled out and the extra mass slowed his agility.

Unlike Chang and Hewitt, who had underrated forehands and attacking skills, Coria was just a wall retriever wall type player, so his run was less sustainable.
very interesting take...I've obviously heard of counterpunchers/retrievers losing a step as they age, but not because they "filled out" at 24. are there any other examples of this?

I definitely maintain his level dropped because of his serve and whatever was wrong with his brain. At 2006 Monte Carlo, his last real pro tournament, he served a combined 42 DFs in his second and third round matches, winning both (they were both 3 setters though, not 2 sets like I said in OP). Not sure he could beat the likes of PHM (down 61 51!!) and Kiefer with no serve AND hampered movement.

Again, would like to reiterate that I'm not saying Guillermo would have been a consistent slam threat or anything. I agree he was a counterpuncher. but he was a damn good one and still very young, I do not think his body was holding him back in any way.
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
His game was based on foot speed and quickness. Not surprising that his level dropped off when his frame filled out and the extra mass slowed his agility.

Unlike Chang and Hewitt, who had underrated forehands and attacking skills, Coria was just a wall retriever wall type player, so his run was less sustainable.
His game dropped off due to serving problems. He had plenty of game from the back of the court as well, I'd say Coria is another player with underrated attacking skills.
 

tacou

G.O.A.T.
His game dropped off due to serving problems. He had plenty of game from the back of the court as well, I'd say Coria is another player with underrated attacking skills.
Yeah I didn't want to get into that, but his backhand was pretty stellar, his touch was great, and his ground strokes had that heavy, forceful spin.
 

PMChambers

Hall of Fame
Didn't he have hip surgery after year foll wing the FO loss? I heard he was broken. The "Yips" where only one part of it.
Similarly Hewitt was never the same after a foot injury but at least his HC centric game was not effect as much or his desire was still strong enough to push him.
 

Mustard

Talk Tennis Guru
I definitely maintain his level dropped because of his serve and whatever was wrong with his brain. At 2006 Monte Carlo, his last real pro tournament, he served a combined 42 DFs in his second and third round matches, winning both (they were both 3 setters though, not 2 sets like I said in OP). Not sure he could beat the likes of PHM (down 61 51!!) and Kiefer with no serve AND hampered movement.
Those were great matches to watch. Coria was struggling to even spin serves in with little pace at that time, and against Kiefer had 1 game of 4 straight double faults to get broken. Coria fought back with his rallying and shot making ability and won both. The commentators were pitying Coria for his service yips, and saying that there was nothing that Jose Higueras (Coria's then new coach) could do about it.

After struggling against the service yips to get epic wins over Mathieu and Kiefer, Coria then got battered by Nadal. Even wins that should be routine were much harder work, especially mentally harder.

Again, would like to reiterate that I'm not saying Guillermo would have been a consistent slam threat or anything. I agree he was a counterpuncher. but he was a damn good one and still very young, I do not think his body was holding him back in any way.
I think Coria without the service yips would continue to be a consistent threat, especially on clay. A top 10 player for sure, perhaps even top 5. That's the level he was at from 2003-2005, and he was still in the top 10 for months in 2006 when he was struggling badly with yips, but that soon changed. The 2003 and 2004 French Opens were his best chances to win majors. He would probably fade somewhat as he gets into his late 20s because speed was a big part of his game, but the skill he had was magical.

Didn't he have hip surgery after year foll wing the FO loss?
Coria had surgery on his right shoulder in August 2004. Coria's service yips was a year later, and got really serious by late 2005.
 

tacou

G.O.A.T.
Those were great matches to watch. Coria was struggling to even spin serves in with little pace at that time, and against Kiefer had 1 game of 4 straight double faults to get broken. Coria fought back with his rallying and shot making ability and won both. The commentators were pitying Coria for his service yips, and saying that there was nothing that Jose Higueras (Coria's then new coach) could do about it.

After struggling against the service yips to get epic wins over Mathieu and Kiefer, Coria then got battered by Nadal. Even wins that should be routine were much harder work, especially mentally harder.



I think Coria without the service yips would continue to be a consistent threat, especially on clay. A top 10 player for sure, perhaps even top 5. That's the level he was at from 2003-2005, and he was still in the top 10 for months in 2006 when he was struggling badly with yips, but that soon changed. The 2003 and 2004 French Opens were his best chances to win majors. He would probably fade somewhat as he gets into his late 20s because speed was a big part of his game, but the skill he had was magical.



Coria had surgery on his right shoulder in August 2004. Coria's service yips was a year later, and got really serious by late 2005.
Those matches were truly something. I still remember the way the announcers were talking about his issues, very hard thing to see.
And yeah like I said earlier, it's tough to guesstimate because he was right there with Fed, Nadal, Nalbandian, Roddick as a top player, then just vanished

I have not wanted to sound like a homer in this thread, but I think he could have changed how things played out in 06-09 to some degree.
 
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