Passing three qualifying rounds, the young American Sebastian Korda found the rhythm at the last year's Roland Garros to win three main draw matches and find himself in the last 16. There, Sebastian faced the clay king and his idol Rafael Nadal, fulfilling his dream of meeting the Spaniard on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
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. Nadal saved five out of six break chances and delivered eight breaks from 11 opportunities to race over the top.
The American stayed in touch in the most extended exchanges, although it wasn't enough for more than four games, losing ground in the shortest and mid-range rallies 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 advance and preserve energy for the next clash.
Sebastian Korda spoke about his first meeting with Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros.
Rafa saved two break points in the first game to avoid an early setback and delivered breaks in games two and four to open a 5-0 gap. The American held at love in game six with a service winner to add his name on the scoreboard before Nadal held after deuce for 6-1 in 37 minutes.
Rafa produced three fine holds in set number two and stole Korda's serve thrice for 6-1, opening a massive two sets to love advantage in an hour and nine minutes. The youngster grabbed a break 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.
"Since I was a little kid, I always admired Nadal the most out of any other tennis player. And I always said that my dream match would be to play Rafa on Court Philippe-Chatrier. To have it happen was an incredible moment, and I didn't want to miss an opportunity to ask for a shirt and a signature and thank him for inspiring so many other little kids around the world to play the great game of tennis. I have the shirt hanging up in my room; it's a moment I'll cherish forever," Sebastian Korda said.