Sebastian Korda: Rafael Nadal is my biggest idol, I named my cat Rafa after him

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Sebastian Korda: Rafael Nadal is my biggest idol, I named my cat Rafa after him

Rising American star Sebastian Korda couldn't he happier after progressing into the French Open round-of-16 and setting up a clash against his idol Rafael Nadal. Korda, ranked at No. 213 in the world, handed a straight-set defeat to Pedro Martinez 6-4 6-3 6-1 to make his maiden round-of-16 at a Grand Slam.

"[My dad is] incredibly supportive. My goal in life is to win two Grand Slams so I have one more than he has. That's what I'm going for,” Korda said, per the ATP website. “Both my parents are incredible.

With the way that everything is going right now, I mean, they're super proud. I can't be more grateful for them."

Korda says Nadal is the reason he plays tennis

Korda won his third round clash, before Nadal claimed a straight-set win over Italian Stefano Travaglia.

"I'm praying that [Rafa] wins,” Korda said. “I mean, he's my biggest idol. He's one of the reasons I play tennis. Just watching him play, [he is an] unbelievable competitor. Just from him I have the never-give-up mentality.

Whenever I'm on court, I try to be like him. Growing up, I named my cat Rafa after him. That says a lot about how much I love the guy”. Meanwhile, Nadal is having another strong campaign at the French Open as he has claimed three wins in straight sets to easily make the round-of-16.

No. 3 seed Dominic Thiem labeled Nadal as the "huge favorite" for the French Open title. "For me, he's the huge favorite here. Obviously it's a lot of different things going on this year with way less crowd, with the tournament going on three or four months later.

It's cold conditions," Thiem said, per Ravi Ubha. "But with his name and his past here at the tournament, he's still the huge favorite. Honestly, I don't know where that statistics is coming from."

Nadal was beaten in the Rome Masters quarterfinal but world No. 1 Novak Djokovic said the Spaniard was still the top favorite for the French Open. "Well, as I said, you know, it's Nadal. Even though he lost this week, I still think, you know, a lot of people will agree, he's the No.

1 favorite and, you know, the record that he has there, the history of his results, you just can't put anybody in front of him," Djokovic said in Rome. "But, you know, definitely Diego showed that Nadal is beatable on clay.