The Australian Open junior champion from a few years ago, Sebastian Korda, needed some time to make a breakthrough in the ATP rankings and get a chance to compete on the highest level. The 20-year-old American, the son of a former Major winner Petr, has found the desired rhythm at Roland Garros, passing the qualifying rounds to find himself in the main draw.
The youngster claimed his first ATP wins, beating three rivals to find himself in the last 16 against his rival Rafael Nadal. The 12-time champion gave the young gun a lesson on a windy day on Court Philippe-Chatrier, scoring a 6-1, 6-1 6-2 triumph in an hour and 55 minutes.
Thus, Rafa advanced to his 14th quarter-final in Paris, staying on the title course and facing an even younger Jannik Sinner in the quarters. Nadal saved five out of six break chances, delivering eight breaks from 11 opportunities to race over the top.
Rafael Nadal defeated Sebastian Korda in the fourth round at Roland Garros.
The American stayed in touch with Nadal in the most extended exchanges, although it wasn't enough for more than four games, losing ground in the shortest and mid-range to propel Rafa through.
Nadal had 15 winners and 20 unforced errors, struggling at some moments due to strong wind but still doing more than enough to move over the top and preserve energy for the next clash. Rafa saved two break points in the first game to avoid an early setback, delivering breaks in games two and four to race into a 5-0 advantage.
The American held at love in game six with a service winner to add his name on the scoreboard, reducing the deficit to 5-1 before Nadal held after deuce for 6-1 in 37 minutes. Rafa produced three fine holds in set number two, stealing Korda's serve thrice for 6-1, opening a massive two sets to love advantage in an hour and nine minutes.
The youngster broke at the beginning of the third set and opened a 2-0 gap, only to drop the remaining six games and push Nadal over the top. "I'm happy with the way I performed against a young and challenging opponent.
He has a big future ahead of him, and I wish him all the best. It's an honor for me to inspire young players and kids to pick up the racquet and step on the court. My entire generation has tried to give its best on the court every day and always improve; I'm glad that we inspired the new generations.
Sebastian made some mistakes in crucial points but the way he hits the ball is impressive. Also, it wasn't easy to find the right shots in those windy conditions," Rafael Nadal said.