Korda cracks milestone: 20-year-old American reaches first ATP final

20-year-old Sebastian Korda has been the big story of this year’s Delray Beach Open. The son of former world No 2 Petr Korda continued to capture the imagination of the home fans by powering into the final with another convincing win on Tuesday.

Sebastian Korda Delray Beach Open 2021
  • What happened? American Sebastian Korda powered into his first ATP final with a victory over Cameron Norrie at the Delray Beach Open.
  • Why it matters: The 20-year-old is playing his fifth ATP main draw and is the son of former ATP world No 2 and Australian Open champion Petr Korda
  • You will also learn: How far Korda has climbed in the rankings since last October and which famous tennis stars mentored him this winter.

Sebastian Korda caught the attention of the tennis world in a big way when he stormed to the second week of Roland-Garros last October in what was just his second Grand Slam main draw appearance. Less than three months later, after a productive two weeks spent with American legend Andre Agassi this December in Las Vegas, Korda has surged into his first ATP final with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie.

“I’m fired up right now,” said Korda on court after his victory. “I can’t be happier.”

Korda, a former junior No 1 and the 2018 Australian Open Boys Singles champion, has proven this week that he can be a menace on the senior circuit as well. He won back-to-back three-setters over top 5 seeds Tommy Paul [5] and John Isner [2] to reach the semis, and on Tuesday night he was in command for most of the match against world No 74 Norrie.

Korda did stumble on his first attempt to serve out the match at 5-4 in the second set, but he quickly regrouped, broke back for 6-5 and held serve convincingly in the final game to close out the victory in one hour and 21 minutes. The American converted his third match point when a Norrie backhand sank into the net, as the sparse (due to coronavirus restrictions) but enthusiastic crowd let out a loud applause.

“5-4 two match points, I don’t know,” said Korda. “He played one good point then I threw in a double-fault after that. Other than that I played a really good match and I’m super happy with it.”

Confidence Growingย 

Korda was outside the top 200 when he took the court at Roland-Garros this October, but he was already growing in confidence after a summer spent in the New York bubble practicing and playing against the sports’ top players. He turned that positive energy into a run at Roland-Garros and in November he also notched his first challenger title. His self-belief, especially after spending a fortnight practicing and philosophising with Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, has continued to grow from there.

American John Isner is among the many to sing the praises of Korda this week. After his loss to the rising star last night he told reporters that confidence was the key to Korda’s success at the moment.

“Itโ€™s just that heโ€™s just more confident and he believes that he belongs as a top player on the ATP Tour,” Isner said. “Once you sort of gain that belief it can take you a long way.”

Korda’s confidence was on full display on Tuesday, and he’ll hope to play with the same poise when he faces Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz for the title on Wednesday afternoon. If he can manage a win, he’ll make his top 100 debut next week.

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