Barely ranked inside the top-250, the young American Sebastian Korda made significant progress in the past 13 months to find himself in the top-100 as the second player born in 2000 after Felix Auger-Aliassime. Traveling to Roland Garros from outside the top-200 last October, Korda won three qualifying matches to enter the main draw, taking advantage of an easier path to finding himself in the last 16 at the season's last Major!
Korda wrapped up the season with the Challenger title in Eckental and continued in the same style at the beginning of 2021. Sebastian reached the final at the ATP 250 event in Delray Beach and won the crown in Quimper Challenger to secure the top-100 spot and a massive milestone.
Korda received a notable boost in Paris following the fourth-round loss, facing his idol Rafael Nadal and talking with the soon-to-become 20-time Major champion for around ten minutes.
Sebatian Korda spoke about moments spent with Rafael Nadal in Paris last year.
Korda said that Nadal was very supportive, praising his game and giving him a signed shirt that proudly stands in Korda's room back home.
Rafa beat Sebastian 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 in an hour and 55 minutes, controlling the pace on a windy day to advance into the last eight. Nadal saved five out of six break chances and produced eight breaks from 11 opportunities, never losing focus despite some weak moments in tough conditions.
Rafa saved two break points in the first game and delivered breaks in games two and four to open a 5-0 gap after 28 minutes. The American held at love in game six with a service winner to add his name on the scoreboard before Nadal closed the set a few minutes later.
Rafa produced three comfortable holds in set number two and stole Korda's serve thrice for 6-1, moving a set away from victory. The youngster grabbed a break at the beginning of the third set with a backhand winner and opened a 2-0 gap.
Shifting into a higher gear, Rafa rattled off the next six games to race over the top following a return winner at 5-2. "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. I talked with Rafa after the match for like ten or 15 minutes. He was a super nice guy and very supportive. Rafa told me that I have the game to become a great player," Sebastian Korda said.