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Sebastian Korda congratulates Andrey Rublev after their Miami quarter-final on Thursday.

Korda: 'I Can Play With The Biggest Names In Tennis'

American credits mother for his on-court demeanour

Sebastian Korda says that he feels better about playing against "the biggest names in tennis" after a run to the Miami Open presented by Itau quarter-finals.

The 20-year-old #NextGenATP American lost to fourth-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev 7-5, 7-6(7) on Thursday night and is now 10-4 on the 2021 ATP Tour season, which includes a runner-up finish at the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com (l. to Hurkacz) in January.

“I kind of feel comfortable playing against these bigger guys,” said World No. 87 Korda, who was contesting just his second ATP Masters 1000 tournament. “This week showed me that I can keep up and play with the biggest names in tennis. So it was a really positive week, both in singles and in doubles. I had a lot of fun in doubles with my partner, Michael Mmoh. I will take a lot from this and hopefully I can play some good tennis on the clay now.”

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Korda, who is set to break into the Top 70 of the FedEx ATP Rankings on Monday, believes that last year’s five-month Tour suspension due to the global COVID-19 pandemic really helped his development.

“I think one of the best things was the break that we had,” said Korda. “It helped me really focus on my body, and fortunately we had a tennis court right next to our house. We were all healthy and we were all staying safe. That was a really big thing for me. I just got in a lot of reps, and I think that really shows in my game right now that I'm a lot more consistent.

“I can keep up with these bigger guys. I think that's one of the biggest things. But I also think skipping out on [the] Australia [swing] was also a really big thing for me, getting a lot matches. I'm match fit. When I have a lot of matches under my belt, I play some really good tennis.”

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The 6’5” right-hander, whose father Petr Korda captured the 1996 Australian Open title and rose to a career-high World No. 2, beat Radu Albot, No. 10 seed Fabio Fognini, No. 17 seed Aslan Karatsev and fifth seed Diego Schwartzman en route to the Miami quarter-finals.

Throughout his run, Korda kept his emotions in check, something he credits to his mother, Regina, a former World No. 26 on the WTA Tour.

“I think ever since I was a kid, my mom was really big into kind of having a poker face on court and not showing any negative emotions. Obviously, positive emotions are always great, but I think my mom was really big on that. I have her to thank for that, because I think it's a really [a] big strength for me that the opponent doesn't really know what's happening on the other side of the court. I try to use it to my favour.”

Korda, who is currently in fourth position in the ATP Race To Milan for a spot at the Next Gen ATP Finals in November, will now return to Bradenton, Florida, to recover from a groin injury, which he says "is the result of playing plenty of matches this year".