He returned and, leading 6-2, 7-5, 4-3, held on to take the set 6-4 and the first point in the 2018 final.
“I took a break because it appeared to be the right moment,” said Coric when reflecting on the match. “The pain was going up and up so I decided to stop and stretch my leg and put some cream on it. It’s not a problem, it’s just painful.”
Coric said he had been suffering with the pain since the Shanghai tournament in October. During his run to the final in China he disposed of Roger Federer, the second of his two victories over the Swiss legend in 2018.
Coric ultimately lost in the Shanghai final to Novak Djokovic. But his performances have propelled him up the rankings from 48 at the start of the year to a career of 12 in December.
“I was feeling a bit nervous before the final,” said Coric. “But once I got to the court I felt fine. I don’t consider myself a favourite. Jeremy could have played well and on any given day anyone can win.”
Chardy, the world number 40, crumbled after losing his opening service game.
“I got really tight after that loss and Borna played great match too. He did not let me get confident and find my rhythm, so well done to him.”
Croatia, who were beaten finalists in 2016, are seeking their second trophy in the 118 year history of the competition. France, the 10 time champions, will move ahead of Britain to third on the all-time winners list if they prevail for a second consecutive year in Lille.