Cheryl Murray

  • The end of Guillermo Coria

    2010-11-02 16:23:59

    I was watching a replay of the old Rome 2006 final. It was one of the classic 5-setters between Roger Federer andRafael Nadal, back when Nadal was still wearing piratas and playing from 6 feet behind the baseline. This match had it all! Accusations of cheating by Federer, stalling tactics by Nadal. Ah...the good old days.....

    And it made me start thinking about Guillermo Coria...which isn’t as random as you’d think. Just one year prior, Coria was still a contender. In 2005, it was he who battled Nadal in the finals of Monte Carlo and Rome (and Beijing that year). It was he who took Nadal to 5 sets at the Rome Masters.

    So what happened? My Tennistalk colleague, Ricky Dimon, has argued that Coria’s career was actually finished in 2004 after Gaston Gaudio came out of nowhere to upset Coria in the finals of the French Open. I disagree (as usual).

    Sure, Coria was devastated that he lost to Gaudio. To say that the two men were not friends is like calling chocolate just a food – it’s a MASSIVE understatement. For Coria to lose to his enemy must have been a bitter pill to swallow. Still, I don’t think Coria’s career was officially over at that point. Why? Because I believe he still felt that he was the superior player.

    I’m guessing that Coria was disgusted that he lost, but that he held the not-so-deeply hidden belief that he was the better player. No, I think that Rafael Nadal effectively ended Coria’s career.

    Consider this. Coria still made the finals of 4 tournaments and actually won one of them in 2005. He played well enough to take a set off Nadal in Monte Carlo and a pair of sets in Rome. But the problem is that unlike the French Open final, there was no choking from Coria. He wasn’t beaten because he lost his nerve or because he was simply unable to close out the win.

    He lost because Nadal was better. Every time. There was no fooling himself that he “could” have won. He had to come to terms with the fact that he had been replaced as the guy to beat on clay...and by a KID no less. I think Guillermo Coria was one of the first in the sport to recognize that Rafael Nadal was quite simply a clay court phenom. And after that, there was just no place left for the Argentine no-so-affectionately called The Weasel.

    From the last time that he lost to Nadal in the Beijing final, Coria ceased to be a factor on the tennis court. Nadal squeezed him right out of the sport.

Tell a friend »


Cesco , 11/3/10 12:50 AM

i can tell from the tone of this blog that you don't believe a single word you typed. You KNOW Coria's career ended at the 2004 French and you just won't admit it!

RickyDimon , 11/3/10 1:57 AM

luckystar , 11/3/10 5:06 AM

As I understand it the laws of libel and defamation apply to the internet? I am shocked that TT allow this kind of statement/accusation to be perpetuated.

ed251137 , 11/3/10 10:31 AM

I couldn't agree more. How dare luckystar claim that Olivier Rochus said such things when in fact it was his older brother Christophe Rochus who did. Is he his brother's keeper? Cain and Able all over again? He/She should at least read the article carefully before commenting.

numero , 11/3/10 1:36 PM


Well said. But the bloog is not as much as Coria as Rafael Nadal. But this doping nonsense will now trigger a fanclash that thrives on this site between the real fanatics.

newfangkc , 11/3/10 1:54 PM

luckystar , 11/3/10 1:55 PM

it was christophe rochus, don't blame olivier who is a really nice guy.

it's the doping that ended coria's career, not rafa or gaudio

croc , 11/3/10 2:05 PM

Newfangkc, not fanatics, just to refute some baseless accusations about the no.1 player in the world. I hope this stupid doping accusation issue can be stopped. I hope Cheryl can tell everyone posting on this blog to stay on topic.

luckystar , 11/3/10 2:20 PM

Thanks croc, I know I made a mistake by typing O instead of C. Thanks for the correction.

luckystar , 11/3/10 2:23 PM

I deleted that post, actually. Unsubstantiated doping allegations are not tolerated here.

cherylmurray , 11/3/10 4:37 PM

Oh.. and Cesco, I know PRECISELY what the service yips are...and the ARE psychological, not physical. I'm saying Coria was intimidated by Nadal's breakthrough.

Ricky - Of COURSE I believe it. You are blinded by your Gaudio love. :hug:

cherylmurray , 11/3/10 4:41 PM

no you dont

the timestamp on the end of Coria's career is fact, not opinion.

Gaudio won the French Open. That's all that matters. I could care less about whose career he ends. This is about Coria, not Gaudio.

Coria was never the same.

RickyDimon , 11/3/10 4:42 PM

In fact, Ricky, his 2005 season wasn't significantly different than 2004, with the exception of not making a Slam final.

cherylmurray , 11/3/10 4:58 PM

yeah, except for that MINOR DETAIL of reaching a slam final!!! LOL.

and actually it was. He lost some matches in 2005 that he would not have come CLOSE to losing pre-Gaudio match.

RickyDimon , 11/3/10 5:30 PM

You're reaching.

cherylmurray , 11/4/10 12:20 AM


im not the one who blogged about the end of Coria's career without supporting it with facts.

Fact is he was never the same after the EXACT moment when Gaudio's last backhand was struck.

RickyDimon , 11/4/10 1:49 AM

What fun. A spat between Cheryl and Ricky

ed251137 , 11/4/10 2:54 AM

i'd call this more of an instruction (by me) than a spat.

RickyDimon , 11/4/10 3:10 AM

"...but Coria's career ended because he began to suffer from service yips and never recovered."

His serve cost him big time. It was painful to watch such a good player crumble because of his serve. At times, it was similar to Dementieva's battles with her serve. Despeite it all, Coria showed a lot of tenacity in his matches. I remember watching him play a match where he couldn't serve at all, but won gmes based puerly on his ground strokes and experience. Talk about improvising. His 2005 Rome final vs. Nadal was an excellent match. i often wonder if Nadal would have dominated clay as much as he has done if Coria did not encounter such problems. It would have been nice to watch the two of them battle it out on the red stuff.

Von , 11/4/10 7:03 AM

Thanks for the advance corrective action on dopinggate.
The argument between you and Ricky is interesting and I will be following that.
Muzz lost badly in Valencia. The New Berdyitch has got back to his only Berdych days. Monacko is playing very well last few tournaments.
Chilic has slumped considerably.

newfangkc , 11/4/10 7:07 AM

It's so refreshing to see Cheryl and Ricky having a spat, and both claiming that their opinions are fact.

nadline , 11/4/10 8:50 AM

From looking at Coria's record over at wiki, he hurt his shoulder at Winbly 04 and had surgery in the fall. He did play well in the first half of 2005, maybe peaking at that Rome match vs Rafa. The yips appeared a few weeks later at Umag, who knows why? Maybe an accumulation of bad stuff. Injury to the body can scar the psyche as much or more than losing.

Coria wouldn't have threatened Rafa's clay court reign. Coria is 4 years older than Rafa and was in his prime years in 04-05. Rafa was just getting started...

Ramara , 11/4/10 12:14 PM

Coria might get some of the clay titles that Rafa won, if Coria was not affected by his problems. However judging by how he performed on a big stage at the FO 2004 against Gardio, I think Rafa would get the better of Coria should they meet more often on the big stages even if Coria was not having any of his problems. Well maybe guys like Coria and Kuerten would provide better competition for Rafa than Fed did/does on clay!

luckystar , 11/4/10 12:54 PM

"i'd call this more of an instruction (by me) than a spat."

Ricky, a little patronizing / condescending perhaps?

chlorostoma , 11/4/10 4:03 PM

chlorostoma - if you cant see that this is all in good fun, please dont comment.

RickyDimon , 11/4/10 4:18 PM

Ricky - some day you'll admit who is the master and who is the pupil. HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAAHHA

luckystar - I don't think Coria would EVER have been a rival for Rafa. Why? Because Rafa played Coria's game, only better. I don't know if Guga would have been a better contemporary rival. I'm a bit of a Guga fangirl (only time you'll ever get me to admit being a fangirl), so my perspective is perhaps skewed.

cherylmurray , 11/4/10 4:40 PM

haha, ricky,
I think I can usually tell when it is all in good fun
I don't think this was one of those times
but I thank you for turning the patronizing towards me just the same :-)

chlorostoma , 11/4/10 5:08 PM

it's pretty obvious based on the expert picks from this season who knows more about tennis.

and this Coria discussion only confirms it!

RickyDimon , 11/4/10 5:25 PM

I'm enjoying this exchange between two professional bloggers.

ed251137 , 11/4/10 5:33 PM

its pretty much futile discussing what effectively ended coria's tennis career...if u ask me....its his doping...but thts just my opinion........untill we hear coria himself talking about what ended his career..(like in an autobiography)...isnt it a waste of time discussing it.

coria is still only 28...he might take inspiration from muster....there is still time..:)

vrael , 11/4/10 6:04 PM

vrael, without speculation, there would be no need for blogs...because they would all just be news articles.

cherylmurray , 11/4/10 6:47 PM

no offence to the experts, but even Lil wayne got his US open picks ( nadal and kim ) SPOT ON ! LOL so that means lil wayne is the best expert on tennis ..haha... just a funny post :D

vamosrafa , 11/4/10 6:54 PM

while we're all in jest, your predictions are often enough pretty off.

Steve Tignor's even more so, and yet he writes with more tennis insight (than a certain jester).

chlorostoma , 11/4/10 7:03 PM

Lil Wayne also got released from jail today

so hopefully he will be offering some more predictions on the near future

RickyDimon , 11/4/10 8:03 PM

vamosrafa - this is true. Lil' Wayne did his picking from jail, too....

chlorostoma - Steve Tignor is my absolute favorite tennis writer...and he can't pick his way out of a strawberry patch. Brad Gilbert is also a pretty bad predictor considering what his job is.

cherylmurray , 11/4/10 8:04 PM


Some of us have commented before that you seem to have a bias against Nadal... fair enough, we all have our biases. But it's a bit of a shame that these comments have pulled away from one of the main points of the blog articles: what class (then) of a hardcourt player and a champion Coria met in Nadal in 2005 and what that did to him.

chlorostoma , 11/4/10 11:25 PM

what comments?

RickyDimon , 11/4/10 11:32 PM

comments, posts...
the posts that started and continued with your insistance that it were other factors only that put an end to Coria's career, in other words that the stone wall, nay, mountain that Coria experienced in the guise of an 18 year old champion from an Iberian island had little or nothing to do with it...

chlorostoma , 11/5/10 4:31 AM

uhhh, the whole subject of this blog is the end of Coria's career.

And my opinion - along with everyone else's other than Cheryl - which is accepted as fact, is that it ended at the Roland Garros final. Nadal had nothing to do with it. There are not two sides to this argument.

RickyDimon , 11/5/10 4:38 AM

Actually Ricky, I'm with Cheryl on this one, and I am ALWAYS on the right side of any argument, Rafa was responsible for ending Coria's career, even Coria knows that. Lol

nadline , 11/5/10 2:06 PM

"everyone else's [opinion] other than Cheryl (sic)" ... is that a fact? Are you certain that in the last 5 years no-one else has held views differing from yours as to what was the one cause / were the several causes of Coria's career end?

Even if this were the case, would that necessarily mean that those views are the only possible correct ones?

Even *if* this was the first time that the Nadal factor has been argued as being very significant... it is quite a compelling argument. And more compelling today, now that it is clear to everyone how undefeatable on clay Nadal had already become and would remain... something that back in 2005 was maybe more apparent to his opponents than to commentators and the world at large.

In other words, you keep giving arguments that amount to "because I said so" and "I know more than you, and more than Cheryl besides". Charming.

chlorostoma , 11/5/10 3:30 PM

chlorostoma - how is this a compelling argument?

Cheryl is just GUESSING what was going through Coria's head.

Well, I'm NOT guessing. I'm looking at the FACTS. All you have to do is look up Coria's playing activity on the ATP website.

RickyDimon , 11/6/10 5:39 AM

Ricky is more correct than Cheryl on this issue - Nadal had NO effect whatsoever on Coria's decline; to even suggest this is an insult to Coria as a tennis player. Matches can destroy careers, but no player who's reached the top echelons of the sport will lose motivation just because someone else has their number.

The match against Gaudio was a factor - but you can't also say that it was the only factor. Service yips, injuries, doping - seems like a lot of things involved.

samprallica , 11/6/10 9:49 AM

in the first half of the above article Cheryl addresses the view you hold, in the last three paragraphs she describes what was still a strong year in Coria's career and the matches against Nadal. I find it hard to reconcile Coria's strong showing with a categorial statement that his career ended in the previous year. The argument made here is to me compelling: it was not that the matches against Nadal were the last straw... more like the last quarter or third of the forces that closed Coria's career. It is not any year that you meet with a force on clay like Nadal, even at 18... not even every decade (the last one like that was Borg). Just because Cheryl is "guessing" as she admits does not mean the argument is not strong. Many of the best insights in the world start as guesses.

I have no problem obviously if you two have very different views on this topic. It is just, to come back to my first post above, that I find it unnecessary for someone as intellingent, informed and skilled as you to resort to condescension and patronizing, first towards your colleague and then immediately towards me as of my first post. It really is not called for. And not only because Cheryl's argument has a lot of merit (even if you do not agree that it does)... but also because condescension and patronizing ways to reply to the opinions of others are simply not the way to go: they are weak and cowardly or sometimes just lazy options. Better alternatives are always available.

chlorostoma , 11/7/10 3:10 AM

cholorostoma - have some fun once in a while.

RickyDimon , 11/7/10 4:50 AM

I really enjoyed the debate!

CindiT , 11/7/10 4:54 PM

I do. often. Even in other posts here at TT. Nice try, anyway :-).

chlorostoma , 11/7/10 9:36 PM

Well try to do so on this thread as well. Thanks :-)

RickyDimon , 11/8/10 5:12 AM

Coria's match with Nadal in the 2005 Rome Final was very much a choke by Coria, who led 3-0 in the 5th Set, and even had 15-40 on the Nadal serve to go up a double-break. That Nadal proved his mettle is one thing, but for Coria again to squander a winning hand at that stage of the match was more constriction of his windpipe. And Nadal was half the player then that he is now.

antonico , 11/20/10 7:41 PM

Coria was 0-2 against Federer on Clay, both in 2004 (before FO) and 2005 in Hamburg. How could he have been labeled the man to beat on clay when he couldn't get past Federer even once?

ts38 , 3/25/11 5:17 PM

ts, that would be a valid point...except that being the man to beat on clay meant something different back then. Nadal's dominance on clay is pretty much unprecedented. When Coria was at the height of his game, he WAS beatable. It was only different with Nadal because Coria was playing his best, and he couldn't beat a teenager.

cherylmurray , 3/25/11 9:21 PM

ts, unless you are saying that if you can't even beat Federer on clay you can't be the man to beat on the surface.

I can see your point.

nadline , 3/25/11 9:26 PM

LOL Nadline. Play nice. :)

cherylmurray , 3/25/11 9:28 PM

Sorry Cheryl, I still must disagree. Looking at their records it seems, if anyone, the man to beat on clay was always Federer. The only one to ever beat him at RG between 2005 and 2009 was Nadal, he beat Coria at the finals of Hamburg '04, won MANY lesser tournaments on clay (even back in 04-05), I could go on and on. Let's face it, where would Federer be if Nadal had not existed? He'd have at least 5-6 RG's to add to his resume and be over 20 majors.
All this coming from someone who's not even a Federer fan by the way.

Nadline, I've read and reread your comment no less than 20 times, and still can't understand it. Can you rephrase it please?

ts38 , 3/30/11 8:20 AM

ts, you wondered how Coria, who couldn't beat Federer on clay in 2 goes, could be called the man to beat, which could mean - if you can't beat Federer on clay you can't be that good.

nadline , 3/30/11 9:37 AM

Well, THF himself said - after losing Madrid last year to his nemesis - that it doesn't matter who wins the lesser (clay) tounaments, it's the FO that counts!!

And let's face it. Fed got lucky in 2009 when Rafa was injured and even then, someone else had to take care of Rafa for Fed (who himself admitted that that had to happen for him to win RG and it did, in 2009).

jean , 3/30/11 3:19 PM

ts, Cheryl got the joke, I was just playing on your words because what you said could be taken in several different ways.

It's such a long time ago now and it was during a period when I didn't pay too much attention because I was a little bit bored with the monotony.

nadline , 3/30/11 3:55 PM

How can we assume that if Rafa doesn't exist, Fed would surely get 5 or 6 RG??

In 2005 Fed only reached the semi, how can we assume that he'll beat whoever in the semi who's not Rafa and beat Puerta in the final? In 2006-2007, well I give him that, as I think he can beat Ljuby in 2006 and Nole in 2007 on clay, if there's no Rafa to beat them. In 2008, Nole did better than Fed against Rafa at Hamburg and RG. If it was Fed vs Nole in the final of RG, I'm not sure that Fed would win. Nole played better than Fed during the 2009 clay season until that fateful Madrid match against Rafa. If Rafa didn't exist, Nole would not have that Madrid match and might do better than his 3rd round exit at RG and might give Fed a stern test in the final. So to me, if Rafa doesnt exist, most likely we'll see Nole reaching some RG finals and may even win some of them. It's not a given that Fed would surely beat Nole on clay.

luckystar , 3/30/11 4:52 PM


I see your point about Federer vs Djokovic on clay within the past few years, but this is about 2004-2005. Novak was 16-17 years old back in Coria's time, so I think it's a safe bet that Federer would not have lost to him knowing how dominant he was. Also given that Federer was 23-0 against everyone else besides Nadal at the French Open between 2005 and 2008, 30-0 in 2009, I'm guessing that Federer would have won the FO those years. Novak didn't really break out onto the scene until 2007, and it wasn't until 2009 that it was clear he was the 2nd best clay court player in the world behind Nadal in my opinion. Novak may have had a closer match against Nadal at Hamburg and RG in 2008, but that doesn't necessarily mean much since Nadal and Federer are 2 different players. (Cheryl's blog even says so in French Open lessons with Nadal, so I'm not the only one who believes this).

I think Roger was saying that out of frustration/emotion that Rafa won all 3 masters events but Roger was still the defending champion at RG. He was interviewed moments after losing to Rafa in the final, in an embarrassing manner at that (whiffing a forehand). If what Roger said was true, then Coria was NEVER dominant on clay since he didn't win RG.

I think Federer was the man to beat before Rafa came along. If you can't beat the man to beat, you're not the man to beat. That's why I said that about Coria vs Federer.

ts38 , 3/30/11 5:30 PM

Actually ts, all joking apart,there was no dominant figure since Federer turned pro until Rafa came along, if there was it certainly wasn't Federer because he only won 4 minor titles before 2005, on clay. You couldn't be the dominant one if someone else was winning the slams.

nadline , 3/30/11 5:47 PM

So ts, it's a matter of opinion, and I think in 2008, Nole is the better clay court player than Fed, it's just that he was unfortunate to be in Rafa's half of the draw at the RG. In my opinion, had Nole met Fed in the RG semifinal, Nole would best Fed there and saved Fed the embarrassment of beat humiliated by Rafa in the final.

So, to me, prior to 2004-05, Fed had no chance of winning the FO. In 2006-07, without Rafa, Fed would win the FO. Come 2008-09, high chance of Fed losing to Nole at the FO if there's no Rafa. In 2010, both Fed and Nole didn't make the semi and beyond, so it's likely that Sod might win the FO without Rafa standing in his way.

luckystar , 3/31/11 12:13 AM

Furthermore, Fed's record in 2008-09 at the FO won't be so impressive had Nole being drawn in his half of the draw, in my opinion. In 2008, Fed was taken to four sets at the FO by Montanes, Gonzo and Monfils. In 2009, Fed struggled his way through all his opponents except one at the FO before reaching the final. Replace one of these opponents with Nole in 2008-09, and we'll see Fed struggling even more.

luckystar , 3/31/11 12:22 AM


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