Guillermo Coria. Andy Roddick. 2004, Miami. The sunny skyline of Crandon Park awaited a finale that promised strong emotions. The numbers 3 and 4 of the world came together, in quite similar circumstances, with a single previous title on local soil (Guillermo in Buenos Aires, Andy in San José). Coria had flirted with the abyss in the semifinals, saving several match balls against a Fernando González who had missed one of the greatest opportunities of his career. Roddick had easily dispatched Spadea and had the favorite vitola. However, the evolution of the game ended up surprising locals and strangers … especially afterwards.

After recovering the initial break, Guillermo gradually began to question the forecasts. The Argentinean had put on the table his characteristic agility and speed, defending himself in an excellent way from his backhand side. The tactic what to apply seemed clear: Put up with Andy’s onslaught, take control from the bottom and propose constant height changes that tighten the nuts on A-Rod’s backhand. The duel itself was a complete contrast of styles: the power Roddick against the cunning, intelligence and variety Coria tennis.

We thus arrived at 4-3 in favor of Roddick, with Coria serving. 30-15. Preceded by a rally of 26 exchanges (the longest of the game until then), that was going to be a inflection point without anyone knowing.

“It all started when I served with 3-4, 30-15. When I fell, after hitting the ball, it got hard in the back and after a few seconds I began to notice horrible pain, to the point of want to vomit for the pain ”, Coria tells Puntodebreak. At that time, however, it seemed that the game was following the trend it had started with. Guillermo, in fact, began to use the left-overs to abruptly cut Andy’s rhythm, placing himself with a dangerous 4-4 and 15-30 that the American cut thanks to 3 indisputable first services. Coria also dodged a 30-30 in the next game, showing off his defensive ability, thus placing the 5 equals.

It is here when Coria shows gestures of pain for the first time. He squats down and gestures; those pains were beginning to intensify. At the next break, the doctor treats Coria. The feeling, at the time, was really bad, but nobody knew what was happening.

After taking what appears to be a muscle relaxant, Coria gripped the game tooth and nail. He tried to move, to be active, adopting some unorthodox positions in order to mitigate the pain. He used his magic wand to start the tie-breaker with two winning drops, shortening the points. Roddick was totally confused and, off-center to Guillermo’s recovery, gave up the deciding game after several unforced errors. His 19 unforced errors in the quarter showed how Coria had won the mental battle; For his part, Guillermo signed a balance of 10 winners and 7 unforceds. First set up the sleeve, but there was still a lot of game left.

“At the time, I thought the pain was the fault of the weight work I had done the day before, that I was free. As the games went on, however, there was no position to ease the pain. “

Despite his pain, the beginning of the second set passed in the way that a Coria among cottons wanted. Andy was unable to take the initiative from the bottom before the festival of heights and changes of trajectory of the ball that came from the Venado Tuerto’s racket, squeezing until the last moment his physical reserves and his intelligence on the court. However, Roddick began to be aware that Guillermo’s physical situation would force him to be at a constant disadvantage. He put on his work jumpsuit and began to enter into the long exchanges that the Argentine posed. The serve began to be non-existent, weighed down by a uncontrollable pain.

Despite saving three balls from break 1-3 down, the game was beginning to be an impossible mission. Not only did Andy cut off the flow of unforced errors, he also began to gain temperature on the reverse side, connecting good parallels. All this, of course, accompanied by a serve that increased in percentage and speed. You can’t say Guillermo stopped fighting, but Andy played with the Confidence of seeing his injured rival and knowing that this final was going through what he dictated with his racket.

The start of the third set was a real blow to Guillermo’s aspirations. His first turn to serve was tremendously contested, reaching the deuce after long rallies. However, Roddick was beginning to show his definitive best version, and the power and punch of his drive gave him a break that sank Coria. There was no party, and after conceding a 6-1, the Argentine decided to retire (despite going through the doctor’s hands and trying to make a return to the court. It only lasted three points).

Commentators had said of that final that it looked like “a soccer game.” Thousands of Argentines were in the stands of the Pista Central. His pride was multiplied by a thousand when Coria, after being dejected and in full pain, went out to the trophy ceremony with the albiceleste jacket on. The balance between showing pride and passion and disguising the ailments that had separated him from the title. With a Davis Cup tie on the horizon, it was the most difficult phase: to see what, exactly, had happened.

“It was something I couldn’t believe, I felt a pain that I had not experienced in my life. I decided to retire and went straight to massage myself, but it did not happen. When I was in the dining room I got to throw myself on the floor in pain and that’s when they decided to take me urgently to the hospital. ”

The odyssey in the American hospital, however, had only just begun. Coria was the victim of a failed identification: “I was there for several hours until they treated me. At first they told me I had a herniated disc. Then, after six hours of being there on a stretcher, all this in the emergency department, they told me that he had kidney stones

The world number four had just played in a Masters Series final with kidney cramps. He had completed three sets despite clearly having a huge handicap. After that heroic effort, Coria did not think twice and left Florida as soon as she could: “From the hospital I went direct to the airport to return to Buenos Aires. The next day I went straight to the Alemán hospital and they did all the corresponding studies. He had 3 pebbles on his kidneys. It was really horrible, although I was able to fire them by urinating after 3 days. ”

It was finally over. Days after that event, his coach at the time, Fabián Blenchino, wanted to cast some positivity. Fortunately, the herniated disc was ruled out. That worried us much more. The final was going to beat her for sure, because Guillermo was playing the best match of the tournament, with the same heart, claw and head with which he had raised the previous ones ”.

Coria’s reappearance was spectacular, winning the title in Monte-Carlo. Then came Hamburg and that Roland Garros final. But that’s a different story to tell.

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