WHAT HAPPENED: Victor Estrella Burgos became the first player from the Dominican Republic to ever win a match at a Grand Slam with his first-round victory on Tuesday, but he kept his historic run going on Court 6 with a 7-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 win over qualifier Borna Coric of Croatia.
The match was a battle of youth vs. experience, with the 34-year-old Estrella Burgos, the oldest player to make his main-draw debut at the US Open, against the youngest player in the draw in the 17-year-old Coric, who won the boys’ singles event at last year’s US Open.
Both players traded service holds all the way through the opening set, setting up a tiebreak. The hour-long first set ultimately boiled down to two minutes, as a forehand error and missed overhead from Coric gave Estrella Burgos a commanding 5-2 lead in the tiebreak. The world No. 80 took advantage of his lead and blasted two winners to wrap up the set.
The second set proved to be a series of missed opportunities for Estrella Burgos. He grabbed the first break of serve in the match to lead, 2-1, but then promptly gave it away in the next game. After Estrella Burgos failed to convert on four break-point opportunities at 2-2, both players remained on serve. But with the Dominican player serving down, 4-5, he hit a double fault on game point and then hit a poor approach shot down set point two points later, allowing Coric to rifle a backhand passing shot that leveled the match at one set each.
The Croatian teenager kept the momentum going by immediately breaking his opponent to take a 2-0 lead in the third set. It appeared that Coric had weathered the worst from his opponent and would cruise to victory, but he began to have trouble pushing off his left leg during the long rallies. He gave the break back to Estrella Burgos and took a medical timeout for attention to his left thigh while leading, 3-2, but it was clear his mobility was hampered. Estrella Burgos rolled through five consecutive games before closing things out on serve to take the third set.
With throngs of Dominican fans screaming and chanting Estrella Burgos’ name, he took the energy from the standing-room only crowd and used it to heighten his game. A drop-volley winner gave him an early break of serve to lead, 2-1, in the fourth set. Coric continued to fight, despite his hampered opponent, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the relentless retrieving of his opponent. Estrella Burgos laced a backhand winner down the line to lead, 5-2, and then comfortably served out the match, letting out a huge scream to celebrate the win.
WHAT IT MEANS: Estrella Burgos is now the first player from the Dominican Republic, man or woman, to reach the third round at a Grand Slam. The world No. 80 will have all eyes on him this Saturday, when he plays No. 5 seed Milos Raonic of Canada. It will mark the first time that Estrella Burgos has ever squared off against a Top 10 player.
THE QUESTION: Do you think Estrella Burgos can continue his run at the Open?