​​Sebastian Korda: The rising US tennis star who is the ‘worst athlete in the family’

CNN
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Sebastian Korda could have knocked out a few of the world’s finest gamers and is getting ready for his first Australian Open quarterfinal, however the 22-year-old nonetheless says he’s the “worst athlete” in his household.

In reality, the younger American has more durable competitors than most, coming from a household stuffed with champions throughout two completely different sports activities.

Each of his dad and mom are former tennis gamers. His dad, Petr, received the Australian Open in 1998, whereas his mom, Regina Rajchrtova, achieved a profession excessive rating of 26.

His sisters, Jessica and Nelly, are each skilled golf gamers – and excellent ones at that.

Jessica has received six LPGA occasions in her profession, whereas Nelly received the Girls’s PGA Championship in 2021.

Talking after beating two-time finalist Daniil Medvedev in straight units within the third spherical on Friday, Korda served up a slice of self-deprecation.

“I don’t know what I’m going to be ranked,” he stated in his post-match interview on court docket.

“However my mother’s profession excessive was 26, my dad was two, my sister Nelly was No. 1, my older sister Jessica was six, so I’m positively the worst athlete within the household up to now!”

Korda, who’s at present world No. 31, is more likely to stand up the rankings after a superb run in Melbourne.

After beating two-time Australian Open finalist Medvedev on Friday, he adopted it up with a hard-fought victory over Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz to succeed in the quarterfinal stage for the primary time in his profession.

He wanted five-sets to get previous Hurkacz, although, together with a nail-biting, final-set tiebreak during which he relied on some superstition.

“The towel received me by way of it,” he laughed. “Each time I went to the towel, I received the purpose, so I simply stored going to it. My new good friend.”

Korda is a part of a brand new technology of American tennis gamers who’ve began making an affect on the game’s largest phases.

Korda is a former junior champion on the Australian Open and received his first, and up to now solely, ATP title two years in the past.

He additionally got here a degree away from defeating Novak Djokovic on the Adelaide Worldwide on January 8, demonstrating his potential to carry out towards the most effective.

“The American gamers have pushed one another and helped one another to consider they will compete near that degree,” former participant turned broadcaster John McEnroe stated in a current interview with Eurosport when discussing doable winners at Melbourne this 12 months.

“If I needed to decide one, I’d in all probability decide Sebastian Korda; he’s the youngest of that present high group of People and the one with probably the most upside proper now.”

Along with his proficient household, Korda may lean on the help of mentor Andre Agassi.

The eight-time grand slam champion has been serving to his younger compatriot for the final two years, throughout which he has change into one of the vital thrilling prospects on tour.

Korda stated Agassi has has been staying up all evening within the US to look at him play his video games in Melbourne and he’s grateful for the help.

“He’s one of the vital particular individuals in my life. We began speaking throughout Covid in 2020. He’s been one of many largest components in my rise,” Korda stated, in accordance with the ATP.

“Simply total, simply as a tennis participant, as a human being. We spend plenty of time collectively. Yeah, he’s very particular to me.”

Korda will face Russian Karen Khachanov within the quarterfinals on Tuesday and, little question, his entire household will likely be watching.

His sister Nelly, although, has no time for her little brother’s modesty.

“It’s full BS,” she advised reporters on the LPGA’s Hilton Grand Holidays Match of Champions on Saturday, when requested about her brother’s claims about being the worst within the household.

“Actually, he’s the most effective. His hand-eye coordination is unbelievable. His swing – I’m jealous of his swing truly.

“It’s loopy. He’s a lefty. He’s a pure righty, however he performs golf lefty. He performed hockey lefty. I imply, he grew up enjoying hockey – he was fairly good at it, too.

“He skates actually properly, performs golf properly, performs tennis fantastically.”

Whereas it stays to be seen how he fares in Melbourne, Korda has all of the makings of the subsequent nice American star.