Russia’s Karen Khachanov is through to his second consecutive Grand Slam semifinal following his 7-6, 6-3, 3-0(ret) win over American Sebastian Korda at the Australian Open.
The 26-year-old was in fine touch before a right wrist injury began to plague Korda in the second before he pulled the pin halfway through the third, sending his opponent into the final four in Melbourne for the first time.
In the opening stanza, Khachanov would secure an early break before Korda fought back to force a tiebreak, in which the Russian would take with a consistent display.
In recent years he has been overtaken by Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev but he is announcing himself as the Russian to beat once again, with strong motivation from each of them to propel each other further.
“It's like competition, right? Somebody goes further. Somebody stays where he is at that moment,” he said.
“Daniil was in front of us, me and Andrey, but still, Andrey was playing, top 10, finishing the Masters. I was top 20, top 15.
“At one point I think I dropped to 25 or 28, yeah, like '21, that was the moment where I had some, yeah, personal issues and, you know, like tougher times.
“Not everything was going as smooth, but, you know, look, I always believe in myself and my abilities and what I need to do in order to be at my best.
“I think this competition between us helps to motivate.”
From the conclusion of the opening set Korda was clearly suffering an ailment, and the Russian took advantage of his hampered opponent on the other side of the net.
Often players struggle to remain concentrated when taking on an injured competitor, but Khachanov is proud of how he maintained his focus.
“It's part of the sport and it was a tough competitive battle until a certain moment, but at the end of the day you don't know how serious the injury is,” he said.
“I think this end of the second set, you know, when I pushed through and then took it with 2-0 lead by sets, it's extra pressure to the guy, if especially he has some issues with physically.
“I think also the beginning of third when you take this lead, the attitude changes from your opponent so it's way tougher to come back.
“So I think all those things together. I was quite focused and, I knew what I have to do, how I have to push. I did it really well.”
A resilient Korda was disappointed about the injury, stating that he first noticed the wrist in Adelaide.
But despite the way his campaign has ended, he remains positive about his summer.
“I don't know what it really is. I had it in Adelaide and then it went away completely. Now it just came back out of nowhere,” he said.
“There is a lot of positives, way more positives than even negatives.
“Today was tough, but hopefully it's nothing serious and I can take care of it so I don't have it in the future.
“It was still a great tournament. My first quarterfinal in a Grand Slam, so I'm going to go forward with my head high and keep working.”
Khachanov will face the winner of the clash between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Jiri Lehecka.