Australian Open: Sebastian Korda follows in father’s footsteps

Australian Open: Sebastian Korda follows in father’s footsteps

If Sebastian Korda wasn’t already nervous sufficient taking part in on the Australian Open, certainly one of his first impressions of Rod Laver Arena was seeing the enormous signal in the Walk of Champions bearing the name of his father, Petr Korda, and the 12 months he received the title in 1998.

No stress or something.

On Sunday, the youthful Korda obtained his personal debut Australian Open off to a promising begin, profitable his opening matches in each the boys’ singles and doubles occasions. He defeated Clement Tabur of France 7-5, 6-3 in singles, then teamed up with Nicolas Mejia of Colombia for a straight units win in doubles.

Petr Korda didn’t make the journey from the household’s residence in Florida to look at his 17-year-old son compete in Melbourne, however he’s very a lot right here in spirit, significantly on the 20-year anniversary of his victory over Marcelo Rios, his solely Grand Slam title.

“It’s definitely fun just walking around and seeing the poster when he won it,” Sebastian mentioned. “It’s awesome, definitely.”

Sebastian grew up in a sports-obsessed household in Florida, the place his Czech dad and mom settled after getting married. Korda’s mom, Regina Rajchrtova, was herself a tennis participant, ranked as excessive as No. 26 in the world.

And his sisters are actually skilled golfers who, like Sebastian, compete for the United States _ 24-year-old Jessica, who received her personal Australian Open title on the LPGA Tour in 2012, and 19-year-old Nelly, at present No. 70 in the ladies’s golf rankings.

Sebastian gravitated towards hockey till he went to the 2009 U.S. Open to look at Czech participant Radek Stepanek, whom his father was teaching, play a match in opposition to Novak Djokovic. After that, he was hooked.

His dad and mom had by no means pushed him into tennis earlier than that, however when he determined to take it up significantly, his father turned his coach, too.

Sebastian’s resemblance to his father is uncanny _ he has the identical lean construct, spindly limbs and blond hair, although he doesn’t fashion it in Petr’s trademark spiky look from the 1990s. Sebastian stands 6-foot-3 (1.93 meters), only a bit taller than his father.

There are similarities in their kinds of play, as effectively, although Sebastian performs right-handed and doesn’t have his father’s sleek one-handed backhand. His is a extra fashionable two-hander.

“My dad definitely took the ball very early, I kind of play the same way,” he mentioned. “I’m an aggressive player. I try to use my serve and to play fast points.”

Petr, who turns 50 on Tuesday, serves as Sebastian’s predominant coach, although his capacity to journey together with his son is proscribed by his commitments to his daughters’ golf careers. Sebastian is accompanied in Melbourne by his touring coach, Dean Goldfine, who previously coached Andy Roddick and Todd Martin.

“He’s got an all-around game,” Goldfine mentioned earlier than Sebastian’s doubles match on Sunday. “He’s obtained an enormous serve, nice serve. He hits the ball very well off the bottom for a man his dimension and strikes extraordinarily effectively. Great arms and simply an general good understanding of the sport.

“He’s simply actually an entire participant for somebody his age.”

Sebastian grew up listening to tales about his father’s profession highlights, significantly his 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 rout of Rios in the 1998 Australian Open ultimate, one of the lopsided finals in match historical past. “Of course, I’ve watched plenty of videos,” he mentioned with a smile.

But he doesn’t view his father’s legacy as a burden. If something, it’s a supply of inspiration _ and a technique to set targets for himself.

“Definitely would like to have one more Grand Slam than my dad and one more ranking better than him,” he mentioned.

Since his father peaked at No. 2, meaning Sebastian must develop into No. 1 to raised him.

As for who would win in a tennis match now, Sebastian can’t actually say. “We don’t play anymore. The last time we played when I was like 12 years old, he gave me a bagel, 6-0. So I don’t want to play with him anytime soon,” he mentioned.

Does he assume he can beat him now, although?

“I think so,” he mentioned, permitting himself one other grin. “But I don’t want to.”

If he wins the Australian Open junior title, that simply would possibly suffice. It’s a step towards getting his personal signal in the Wall of Champions at Rod Laver Arena sometime.

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