Korda Completes First In 17 Years For US Men In Miami
Sebastian Korda’s groundbreaking run at the Miami Open presented by Itau is checking off a string of firsts in the 20-year-old’s burgeoning career. A first Top 20 victory came over Fabio Fognini, then he became the first player outside the Top 5 this year to beat the in-form Aslan Karatsev, which sealed a maiden Round of 16 berth at an ATP Masters 1000 event.
The #NextGenATP player’s 6-3, 6-0 win over Karatsev set a showdown with fifth seed Diego Schwartzman and with it, the chance to notch a first Top 10 triumph and a maiden ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final. For now at least, he has given cause to celebrate the success of American men’s tennis in South Florida.
On Monday, Korda joined compatriots John Isner, Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe in the Round of 16. The last time four American men progressed as far in Miami was in 2004 when Andre Agassi, Todd Martin, Andy Roddick and Vincent Spadea did so.
“It's cool. I think there is a lot of really good young Americans coming up, especially Taylor Fritz, he's really pushing,” Korda said. “And then John Isner, he's still around and still playing some really good tennis.
“Then you have myself and Brandon Nakashima trying to knock on the door and start playing a little bit better tennis. Yeah, I think all of the Americans are doing a really good job so far, and hopefully we can keep going.”
Korda was only four in 2004. While he doesn’t remember attending the tournament as a fan that young, he does recall meeting one of the four players from the US quartet to have last reached the Round of 16.
“I posted on Twitter my first Miami Open I took a picture with Andy Roddick. I don't know what year,” he said. “I think that could have been 2007 maybe, my first real memory of the Miami Open. I don't know if I came before that.”
From the 2004 quartet, Roddick went on to win the title, while Spadea was a surprise semi-finalist. Isner is the only one of the current four so far to have matched Roddick’s success in Miami.
The 35-year-old, who won the title in 2018 and finished runner-up the following year, defeated 11th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime on Sunday to set a clash with No. 7 seed Roberto Bautista Agut. His doubles partner, Fritz, will face Kazakh 32nd seed Alexander Bublik for his maiden ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final berth.
Three times already this week Tiafoe has prevailed in three sets to reach the Round of 16 for the third straight time. He fell to Denis Shapovalov in the 2019 quarter-finals and Kevin Anderson in the fourth round in 2018.
The World No. 58 will need to beat top seed Daniil Medvedev to match his best run in 2021. He, too, was thrilled so many of his compatriots had made deep runs alongside him.
“That's big. Sebi, I'm impressed with that kid,” Tiafoe said. “He's always working hard, got a good team around him. Pops [Petr Korda] obviously former No. 2 in the world, winning [a] Grand Slam.
“I'm a fan and hopefully he can keep going. John obviously winning some matches is great and Taylor is playing great. It's good to be a part of it and hopefully those guys keep going.”
While Isner and Tiafoe have ventured deeper, a first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final beckons for Korda and Fritz. There will be no shortage of big-match Miami experience to draw on in Korda’s camp.
“I'd say I have one of the best teams around me experience-wise,” he said. “I have my dad who was a Grand Slam champion, No. 2 in the world, my mum who was a Top 30 player, Radek Stepanek who is like my brother, we are always in contact, who was No. 8 in the world.
“And then to have a friend and mentor as Andre Agassi, I don't think you can have a better team. There is a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge passing around.”