Lucky towel helps Korda reach first Grand Slam quarter-final

Korda got off to a shaky start against Hurkacz but the 29th seed bounced back to take the second and third sets

Published : 22 Jan 2023, 12:11 PM
Updated : 22 Jan 2023, 12:11 PM

American Sebastian Korda reached the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time on Sunday after defeating Poland's Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6, (10-7) at the Australian Open.

Korda, who dumped 2021 and 2022 runner-up Daniil Medvedev out in the third round, got off to a shaky start on Rod Laver Arena against 2021 Wimbledon semi-finalist Hurkacz but the 29th seed bounced back to take the second and third sets.

Hurkacz, seeded 10th, grabbed the fourth set and earned two break points at 5-5 in the fifth but Korda kept his calm to escape the trouble before they headed into a tie-breaker.

Korda raced to a 7-3 lead in the tie-breaker after winning six consecutive points but Hurkacz came fighting back to level it at 7-7.

Korda did not panic and closed out the victory with a backhand winner after nearly three and a half hours on court.

"It feels awesome. I was not feeling too much energy towards the fourth and fifth sets but you guys (the crowd) picked up me," Korda said in his on-court interview.

"I tried to stay as calm as I possibly could ... it was difficult but I am very happy with the way I kind of just stayed down and kept going through. The outcome was great."

The 22-year-old, who will face Karen Khachanov in the quarter-finals after the Russian knocked out Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka in straight sets, said he became superstitious in the tie-breaker.

"I got a little superstitious with the towel. The towel got me through it," he laughed. "Every time I went to the towel I won the point, so I just kept going to it - my new friend."

Korda is just the third American to reach the quarter-finals at the Australian Open since Andy Roddick last accomplished the feat in 2010. Tennys Sandgren (twice) and Frances Tiafoe have also reached the last eight since.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher