Sebastian Korda keeps hope alive of matching dad’s Open exploits

Medvedev has departed from his last three Grand Slams before the quarterfinals after climbing into the top rankings twice last year. This is his worst Open result since losing in the second round in 2018 and he will fall out of the top 10 for the first time since mid-2019.

Sebastian Korda plays against Daniil Medvedev.

Sebastian Korda plays against Daniil Medvedev.Credit:Eddie Jim

“Matches like this are tough because he played at his good level, maybe a little better than his good level. I didn’t play bad at all, just a little below what I had to do to win,” Medvedev said.

“It’s tough because that’s probably something to do with confidence, like being in the zone, and I wasn’t there tonight. Like all tight points; I haven’t won that many with such nice rallies.

“In a way I think it was a top game where he was just better than me. I’ve won many matches like this. To the right
Now I’m having a little trouble winning these kinds of matches against opponents who can play at a good level. I have to find that back.”

Korda is the first US player to finish in the last 16 – a feat he has already accomplished at the French Open and Wimbledon – but he will be joined by at least two compatriots as there are all-American clashes.

Frances Tiafoe and Mackenzie McDonald dropped out of the tournament on Friday, but an impressive eight Americans reached the round of 32, even with their No. 1 player, Top 10 star Taylor Fritz, suffering a shock defeat to Australia’s Alexei in the second round Popyrin had to accept.

That depth in US men’s football is raising hopes that they can finally end the nation’s Grand Slam title drought, which stretches to the 2003 US Open triumph of former world No. 1 Andy Roddick.

“It’s great. We’re all a tight group and really good friends, especially at Davis Cup,” Korda said.

“We practice together basically every week. Whenever they are well; They want to do even better next week. There’s a little competition there, but it’s a healthy one.

Daniil Medvedev plays in the third round of the Open.

Daniil Medvedev plays in the third round of the Open.Credit:Eddie Jim

“It’s great to see the young people step up and do their thing and get better results every week.”

Korda gave his tour rivals a warning two weeks ago when he reached the Adelaide final where it took Novak Djokovic more than three hours to subdue him, including saving a match point.

But it’s doubtful the 22-year-old – ranked at No. 31 in the world but touted by Djokovic as a future top-10 player – has ever played better than he did in the opening five games against Medvedev.

Korda set the tone as he broke the Russian star in a 17-point opener and scored his seventh winner – while Medvedev had yet to hit the bull’s eye – until the first point of the next game in a sparkling start.


The seemingly effortless winners continued, and he racked up break points in each of Medvedev’s opening three service games and looked likely to cruise through the opener as he took a double break for a 4-1 lead.

But Korda crashed back down just as quickly as he rushed forward and committed a ton of errors – mostly from his backhand side. Medvedev lunged and quickly equalized the set at four to all, only for Korda to break again and then return it straight.

Korda showed an ability to handle disappointment against Djokovic in the Adelaide final and that came in handy again as he later revealed he had “not had a negative thought” that year.

He took an early lead in the tie-break and never fell back, but repeatedly gave back the advantage before finally taking a deserved one-set lead on his third set point after 85 minutes.

Korda eased the workload in the second set and got Medvedev to open the third set, but just like the first set, there was a twist.

The world number eight was again level when his younger rival threw a backhand into the net, leaving the door open for the tournament’s latest comeback in two sets to two.

Daniil Medvedev congratulates Sebastian Korda on his third round win.

Daniil Medvedev congratulates Sebastian Korda on his third round win.Credit:AP

But Korda won his second tiebreak of the night and set up a fourth-round clash with No. 10 seed Hubert Hurkacz, a five-set winner over Canadian Denis Shapovalov.

Following the incredible success of his family in the country, including his sisters Jessica and Nelly, who won golf titles at the Australian Open, Korda is keen to continue the good times.

“We should get a residence permit here or something,” he said.

“It’s fun to play here. The people; They love their sport here. They follow. My father always liked to come here and play. My two sisters; They like coming here. Just everything.

“It’s a special place for us. We’ve had some really great results. Hopefully I can do better than the juniors
and do it with the pros.”

Khachanov keeps his nerve to keep Open alive

Sporting a well-groomed beard and clothing tailored to his athletic physique, Karen Khachanov proved himself once again a stone-cold spoiler of the hype at Melbourne Park on Friday night.

In a duel between the two defeated semifinalists at the US Open last September, the Russian delivered a 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (11-9) win over American Frances Tiafoe in the John Cain Arena.

Karen Khachanov celebrates after defeating American Frances Tiafoe on Friday night.

Karen Khachanov celebrates after defeating American Frances Tiafoe on Friday night.Credit:AP

The fourth set tie-break was a thrill, Tiafoe holding a 6-1 lead, only the Russian showed remarkable resilience, catching the deficit in a quality performance.

Tiafoe has matured into a hot prospect on the tour. The charismatic and fun-loving American possesses a bright smile that lights up stadium seats around the world.

The Netflix star flashed all his charms again on Friday night. There were flushed forehands followed by fist pumps. He wore colorful clothes while sending the crowd into a frenzy.

But Khachanov is an old hand at dealing with the theatrics of rivals and the fickleness of fans.

Karen Khachanov kept her nerves in the tiebreak of the last set.

Karen Khachanov kept her nerves in the tiebreak of the last set.Credit:AP

At the far larger Arthur Ashe Stadium last September, he faced raucous New Yorkers urging the tour’s self-proclaimed rebel to something bigger. Nick Kyrgios was his name.

By then the Australian was the favorite to win the US Open title and was subdued early on before launching a rousing comeback to force a fifth set. But the hype spoiler kept his nerves.

Another balloon burst. On that chilly night in New York, Khachanov blunted Kyrgios’ serve and defused a title threat.

Against Tiafoe, he defied the ferocity of his forehand and silenced the chanting crowd.

Frances Tiafoe plays a backhand.

Frances Tiafoe plays a backhand.Credit:AP

Khachanov, who admitted he was preparing for a fifth set when he was 6-1 down in the tie-break, said he didn’t mind the crowd’s support for Tiafoe.

But he had a problem with some elements of the behavior, saying cheering after double faults wasn’t necessarily fair.

“The other day I beat a player from Australia. The audience wasn’t really happy. I do not know. But hopefully I can just keep winning,” he said.


“To be honest, I like the atmosphere here… and any other crowd. But I’m just asking that you show some respect for the crowd. Cheering after a double fault…I don’t know.

“I know you’re for the other guy. I’m used to playing with atmosphere and energy. At the end of the day I still like it even if the atmosphere and energy are against me.”

The 18th seed broke Tiafoe’s serve early in the game in an early battle of wills.

His brilliance showed at 4-3 in the second during a stunning exchange of blows, ending in a backhand winner with both men at the net giving him a break chance.

Tiafoe fought back in the third. That cheered the crowd on again. But Khachanov kept his nerve.

He broke new ground in Melbourne with a list of last-16 clashes against Yoshihito Nishioka, having reached third rounds in the last four editions of the tournament.

The 26-year-old has won two of his three games against the Japanese left-hander, although Nishioka won his last game in Washington last year.

Khachanov has reached at least quarterfinals in the other three Grand Slams and boasts a powerful serve, lively forehand, strong backhand and good movement.

But to establish himself as a legitimate Grand Slam contender, either in Melbourne or at the other majors in the future, he must overcome another significant hoodoo.

The top seeds have fallen at this Australian Open but champions Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray and highly talented Holger Rune and Andrey Rublev remain alive.

Three of them are ranked in the top 10. That’s the problem for Khachanov, whose last win against a rival in the elite subgroup came in Montreal in 2019 against Alexander Zverev.

Since then, he’s lost 22 straight games to the top 10 players, resulting in his 10-win-from-50-game career pitting against the best of the best.

Elsewhere on Friday night, two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka bounced back from a delayed start to beat former US Open finalist Madison Keys 1-6 6-2 6-1.

But 11th-seeded Cameron Norrie was edged out of the men’s tournament by Czech Jiri Lehecka in 3 hours and 12 minutes 6-7 (8-10) 6-3 3-6 6-1 6-4.

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Ryan Sederquist

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