The poster seemed a priori completely unbalanced but a difference in standing does not necessarily tell a match. 193rd in the world and out of the qualifications, Enzo Couacaud faced in the first round one of the cadors of the moment, Borna Coric, recent winner of the Cincinnati Masters 1000 and 29th at the ATP. But the French bravely played his luck, making equal play for four sets before losing (6-2, 7-6 (5), 3-6, 4-6, 7-5), after four hours and five minutes of fighting.
Couacaud took a set (lost 6-2) to enter the game but, once installed, he posed real difficulties for a Coric inside and far enough from the level which had allowed him to win in Ohio. He thus forced the Croat, more and more inconstant, to play a tie-break (lost on the wire, 7 points to 5), but the best was yet to come.
Couacaud recovers two sets of handicap
Less physically affected by the humidity that reigned over Flushing Meadows, the 27-year-old Mauritian imposed his consistency, his gnaque and his quality of defense during the third set. Coric failed, Couacaud reaped. And gained more and more confidence in his game.
This momentum continued in the fourth round. Despite a tangent service (only 50% of first serves), Couacaud fought on every point. Two huge unforced errors cost Coric his serve at 4 all. Not impressed by two pennies, the French continued with a service game under control.
The French flinches when concluding
His defensive game and an intensity slider that never lowered even allowed him to succeed twice in the last round. He broke away 3-1 and 5-3, then served to win the match at 5-4. But three errors, including a double fault to start the game, cut him short. More aggressive, Coric then got hold of the last three games.
Defeated, Couacaud, already beaten in five sets in the first round of Wimbledon by John Isner, remained prostrate in his chair for several minutes, aware that he had come very close to the greatest victory of his career.
Despite 81 unforced errors (for 74 winners), the winner of Cincinnati saved his skin with extreme accuracy. He will face in the second round Jenson Brooksby, who beat Dusan Lajovic on abandonment earlier in the day (6-2, 6-0, 3-0, ab).