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FLYING UNDER THE RADAR: ONE-ON-ONE WITH SEBASTIAN KORDA



Throughout tennis history, the reality remains that players come and go regardless of their stature and standing in the game.


Roger Federer seemed primed to play on for another 40 years, but even he being one of the greats had a limit. Then there are the less accomplished players with the likes of Aslan Karatsev and Eugenie Bouchard who made their names known with semi-final appearances at Melbourne Park without taking their respective careers to the next level.


One player intending to avoid that particular category is 29th seed Sebastian Korda - no stranger to the suitable conditions down under if his results last summer are anything to go by.


Along with Ben Shelton, Frances Tiafoe, and Taylor Fritz; Korda is part of the next American generation of up-and-coming talent shining through on the ATP tour.


Surrounded by a famous sporting family, Korda is making the most of his athletic genes to propel himself among the best players in the world.


In 2018, Korda won the Juniors title at the Australian Open to officially burst onto the scene. During Indian Wells almost two years ago, the former World No.23 had the opportunity to defeat the great Rafael Nadal up two breaks in the third set at 5-2, before showing signs of inexperience and nerves to lose the unlosable.


Inconsistent results and a new changing of the guard at the summit with the likes of Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz have led many to forget about the once highly talked about future star of the sport. For those reasons, Korda is flying under the radar so far during the Australian Open.


So, how far can an unheeded Korda progress in the first Grand Slam of the year?


Speaking exclusively to The First Serve, Korda described his win over Frenchman Quentin Halys after recently recovering from a five-set encounter in the first round.


“It was a tough match, but I feel as though the fast-paced courts really suit my game, especially on serve,” Korda told The First Serve.


“Quentin (Halys) is a greater server himself and he’s probably one of the best and most consistent servers on tour, so to get out of that match unscathed is great for me to now build on.”


Fluctuating form would be the best way to summarise 2023 for Korda, who after his eight wins during the Australian swing, didn’t return to competitive action until late April and didn’t claim another win until the first round of the French Open.


First round exits at the most recent Wimbledon and US Open campaigns have posed questions about his ability to hang around consistently with the big guns, but Korda shared his confidence in his body and his abilities.


“My body is feeling really good at the moment and the work I’ve put in has helped so much,” he said.


“Coming off a five-set match, it’s reassuring that I know my body can cope with those types of physical battles and it gives me a lot of confidence with the work I’ve done recently with my fitness trainer, so I’m happy with where my level is at right now.”


There’s something about Australia that has allowed Korda to thrive and produce some of his best tennis.


Only 12 months ago, he reached the Adelaide International final and took Novak Djokovic all the way in three tight sets as well as having made the Australian Open quarter-finals where he defeated Daniil Medvedev and Hubert Hurkacz along the journey.


The 23-year-old opened up on his love affair with the Australian courts.


“For me the main thing is the fast-paced courts and the conditions really help my game,” said Korda.


“The people here are amazing and the tournament itself is well structured. It’s just a great way to start the season after a long couple of months working hard in the time off and it allows me to play freely which is important.”


Next up in the third round, the American will meet fifth seed Andrey Rublev tomorrow night at Margaret Court Arena in what should present as a classic for the neutrals.


Because of the lack of media attention attached to Korda in the past few months, is that an advantage for Korda to play his own game and not worry about the pressure?


“I’m a pretty quiet guy so I’m happy to stay out of the media spotlight,” he said.


“I don’t worry too much about that. I try to focus on myself to keep developing in areas that need improving, so hopefully that helps me to have a positive season.”


The Korda name is entrenched in sporting folklore with a proud present and history.


Korda’s mum, Regina Rajchrtová, was a former tennis player who represented the Czech Republic and reached a career-high ranking of world No.26. His two sisters, Nelly and Jessica, both play professional golf on the LPGA Tour.


However, the biggest name in the family is Korda’s dad, Petr, who was also a former tennis player where he reached a career-high world No.2 and won the 1998 Australian Open singles - perhaps explaining Korda’s strong relationship with the Aussie culture.


To have someone with that calibre nous and experience is worth its weight in gold. Korda elaborated on the benefits of having his father by his side.


“My dad is an incredible person and someone who I really appreciate having around in my corner who has been part of my team,” Korda explained.


“What he achieved throughout his career is incredible and I’m really proud of him, so to have him with me is very special and I don’t take it for granted.”


Approaching the new year with a fresh mindset, what does Korda hope to achieve in the coming months to cement himself as a regular challenger to the top field?


“My main goal this year is to stay consistent which means ensuring I keep healthy and enjoy my tennis so I get the best out of myself. If I can do all of those things, then the rest will follow.”

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