On either side of the player entrance that leads to Rod Laver Arena, pillar-like screens flash details of the past Australian Open champions. Walking ahead of Daniil Medvedev, Sebastian Korda glanced towards and tapped on one—Petr Korda, CZE, 1998.
Korda went on to beat Russia’s former world No 1 Medvedev in straight sets and two days later in the fourth round edged past Polish 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6(10-7) on Sunday. On the same court in which his father Petr went all the way 25 years ago, Korda sealed his first Grand Slam quarter-final spot. The 22-year-old’s Slam breakthrough in Melbourne—a city that gave Petr his lone singles Slam success—may have come in just his second main draw appearance there, but it is hardly out of the blue.
Rewind to the start of the 2021 season when the American, ranked outside the top 100 then, had made the cut for the Australian Open qualifiers. The 22-year-old though chose to stay away from Melbourne Park and instead play a low-key Challenger in Quimper, France. The idea, simply, was to get more matches and victories under the belt. Sure enough, he won that tournament.
By then, Korda—groomed in the early days by Petr and his mother Regina, also a former top-30 women’s pro, is coached by Radek Stepanek and mentored by Andre Agassi—was already aware of “how good a tennis player I can be”.
A few months prior to that in October 2020, Korda made the Round of 16 of the autumnal French Open as a 213th-ranked qualifier. There, he played his idol Rafael Nadal, going down in straight sets yet not blown away. The name and nature of his run pushed him into the spotlight, but, again, he chose to move back down to the testing grind of the second-tier circuit.
A month on, it earned him his first title since turning pro in 2018, at the ATP Eckental Challenger beating India’s Ramkumar Ramanathan in the final. That would be the start of Korda’s steady yet significant strides on the tour. In 2021, after winning the Quimper Challenger to break into the top-100 ranking, Korda reached the quarter-finals of the ATP Masters in Miami, lifted his maiden ATP 250 title in Parma and made the final of Next Gen ATP Finals losing to Carlos Alcaraz.
Even as his fellow Spanish Next Gen star-to-be dashed through the fast lane in 2022, Korda, who lost back-to-back ATP 250 finals last year, was happy to go through a term he uses quite often—process.
“Professional tennis, as I understand it, is a process that can take time,” Korda said in an interview with this paper in 2021. “I’m lucky that I have the time and am prepared to do all the hard work. I didn’t always understand this, but this is what I have learned.”
Be it from that straight-sets loss to Nadal or the three-set defeat from match point to Novak Djokovic in the Adelaide final earlier this month, Korda’s learning is as quick as his aggressive game style. At the Australian Open, he pulled off two tight tiebreakers with Medvedev and against Hurkacz, and kept his composure warding off two break points at 5-5 in the deciding fifth set. It did not waver even after his comfortable 7-3 lead in the match tiebreak had been erased.
“I think I’m really good at just kind of moving forward, learning from my mistakes, what I’ve done in the past, then using them in matches like this,” Korda, who will take on Karen Khachanov in the last eight, said on Sunday.
“All those little moments that I’ve gone through, the kind of learning from them, staying patient, staying positive, going through the process, I think it has really helped me going forward.”
Leading Mexico players snub Davis Cup tie over differences with federation | Tennis News
Mexico’s leading tennis players have decided not to play in next week’s Davis Cup World Group playoff tie against Taiwan due to differences with the Mexican Tennis Federation (FMT).
Led by Santiago Gonzalez, Alejandro Hernandez and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela, the players said they will not take part in the Feb. 4-5 Group I playoff tie in Metepec, State of Mexico.
“After a difficult deliberation, we have not reached a positive conclusion, so we have decided not to participate in the upcoming series against the Chinese Taipei team,” said the players’ statement, published on social media on Monday.
“The lack of communication, lack of planning and lack of interest show that the situation has not been handled in the right way and that personal interests have taken precedence over sporting ones.
“It is sad that the FMT does not have the minimum standards in dealing and planning with the best national representatives.”
The players said they had already informed the federation of their reasons for not participating in the Davis Cup tie.
The statement was also signed by players Ernesto Escobedo, Lucas Gomez, Hans Hach, Gerardo Lopez, and Manuel Sanchez.
The FMT was not immediately available to comment.
West Ham set up Man United tie by beating Derby | Football News
West Ham United eased into the FA Cup fifth round with a comfortable 2-0 victory away to third-tier Derby County on Monday to set up a meeting with Manchester United.
Derby, fourth in League One, went into the match on the back of 14 matches unbeaten in all competitions but were quickly overrun by the Premier League side, who took the lead in the 10th minute with a close-range volley from Jarrod Bowen.
Bowen went 12 matches without a goal before netting twice against Everton last week and now has three in his last two games.
The forward then crossed for striker Michail Antonio to head in a second goal five minutes after the interval to break his own goal drought stretching back to November.
David Moyes’ side saw out the victory without conceding many chances, recording back-to-back wins for the first time since October, and Bowen said he hoped the win would boost his side, who are 16th in the table, one point above the relegation zone.
“Two wins on the bounce is good for us it’s all about results and momentum and we can use this as a real springboard,” he said.
Midfielder Pablo Fornals added: “Everyone knows it hasn’t been an easy season so every game we can win gives us massive confidence.
“We work hard every day in training to get a chance and then you have to take it. That’s what the players tried to do tonight.”
Valencia sacks coach Gennaro Gattuso for poor results | Football News
Spanish club Valencia sacked coach Gennaro Gattuso on Monday following the team’s poor results.
Valencia said in a statement it reached a mutual agreement with Gattuso to end their contract.
The announcement came after a 1-0 loss at Valladolid in the Spanish league on Sunday. The club has won only one of its last 10 league games, before the World Cup.
The latest defeat dropped Valencia to 14th place, one point above the relegation zone.
Its only two wins this year came in the Copa del Rey, though it was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Athletic Bilbao at home last week. In the Spanish Super Cup, Valencia lost to Real Madrid in a penalty shootout in the semifinals.
The 45-year-old Gattuso arrived last June on a two-year contract.
The former defensive midfielder helped Italy win the 2006 World Cup and AC Milan win two Champions League titles, both as a player. He coached Milan and Napoli in Italy.
Valencia did not announce a replacement for Gattuso.
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