Korda Has Prayers Answered As Rafa Showdown Is Set
American moves through to Round of 16
Despite entering Roland Garros with no tour-level victories to his name, Sebastian Korda continued his winning run in Paris with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 win against Pedro Martinez on Friday. The #NextGenATP American became the first qualifier to reach the Round of 16 at Roland Garros in nine years, landing 48 winners to claim the win in just under two hours. The last qualifier to reach the fourth round at the tournament prior to Korda’s victory was Alejandro Falla in 2011.
The #NextGenATP talent will now face the ultimate clay-court test when he returns to the court on Sunday to tackle 12-time champion Rafael Nadal, who has powered into the second week without dropping a set.
“I'm praying that [Rafa] wins,” Korda said before the Spaniard had completed his 6-1, 6-4, 6-0 win over Italian Stefano Travaglia. “I mean, he's my biggest idol. He's one of the reasons I play tennis. Just watching him play, [he is an] unbelievable competitor. Just from him I have the never-give-up mentality. Whenever I'm on court, I try to be like him. Growing up, I named my cat Rafa after him. That says a lot about how much I love the guy.”
Before this week, only two players had reached a Grand Slam fourth round without first winning a title on the ATP Challenger Tour. Korda and French wild card Hugo Gaston added their names to that list today.
|Player||Grand Slam Rd. 4|
|Sebastian Korda||Roland Garros 2020|
|Hugo Gaston||Roland Garros 2020|
|Lucas Pouille||Wimbledon 2016|
|Milos Raonic||Australian Open 2011|
Korda entered the Grand Slam event with a 0-3 tour-level record. The World No. 213 made his tour-level debut at the 2018 New York Open, losing to Frances Tiafoe, before losses earlier this year to Emil Ruusuvuori at the Western & Southern Open and Denis Shapovalov at the US Open.
Korda is following in the footsteps of his father, former World No. 2 Petr Korda, who finished as a runner-up at the event in 1992. His father made 11 appearances at the Paris major championship, winning 15 of his 26 encounters.
“[My dad is] incredibly supportive. My goal in life is to win two Grand Slams so I have one more than he has. That's what I'm going for,” said Korda. “Both my parents are incredible. With the way that everything is going right now, I mean, they're super proud. I can't be more grateful for them.”
Korda has won six matches from qualifying, dropping just two sets en route to the Round of 16. The Roland Garros debutant claimed three straight-sets wins to qualify in Paris, before earning consecutive four-set victories against Andreas Seppi and John Isner to reach the third round.
With his win against Martinez, Korda becomes the first player outside the Top 200 to reach the Round of 16 at the clay-court Grand Slam championship since Arnaud di Pasquale in 2002. Prior to his first-round win against Seppi, the Florida native had never played a tour-level match on clay.