The young American Sebastian Korda is the new world no. 26 following a great Australian Open run. Sebastian took down Daniil Medvedev in the third round in Melbourne, using his experience collected in the previous 12 months against Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
The American retired against Karen Khachanov in the quarter-final after injuring his right wrist, hoping to get back at 100% by Indian Wells. A year ago, Korda had a massive chance to beat Rafael Nadal in the desert, leading 5-2 in the decider and serving for the win twice!
However, Nadal fought back and scored a 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 triumph in two and a half hours. The American had the victory in his hands, playing well in the second set and building an enormous advantage in the decider. Still, he cracked under pressure and made too many mistakes in the crucial moments.
Rafa won five points more than Sebastian and saved seven out of 11 break chances to prolong the encounter and remain competitive. The Spaniard converted four out of six break points and overcame terrible periods in sets two and three to avoid his earliest exit since Shanghai 2016!
A three-time champion broke twice in the opener to forge a 4-0 advantage, playing well and closing it with a hold at 5-2. Sebastian raised his level against his idol and dominated set number two to force a decider and show his A-game.
Sebastian Korda spoke about his Indian Wells match against Rafael Nadal.
With everything working his way, the youngster opened a 5-2 gap in the final set, firing from both wings and moving a game away from a career-best victory.
Recovering his game in the last moment, Rafa pulled one break back in game eight and repeated that at 4-5 to lock the result at 5-5. Nadal sprayed a forehand error in the 11th game to face a break point that could have cost him the match.
He saved it after Korda's massive forehand mistake to reach a tie break, becoming the favorite in the encounter's closing stages. Sebastian sent a backhand wide at 3-2 and lost momentum. Rafa claimed five straight points and produced another impressive comeback at the start of 2022.
"I'm good at moving forward and learning from my mistakes. I'm gathering experience and using it in tight matches. I had a tense clash with Rafael Nadal, serving for the victory twice. Also, I had a match point against Novak Djokovic, and that experience helped me against Daniil Medvedev and Hubert Hurkacz in the tight moments.
All those little moments I have been through are a part of the learning curve, helping me stay positive and patient and move forward. I will try to keep this pace and play aggressive tennis in the crucial moments," Sebastian Korda said.