Sebastian Korda backed up his impressive start to 2023 by delivering a statement performance on Friday at the Australian Open, where he outplayed Daniil Medvedev for a 7-6(7), 6-3, 7-6(4) third-round victory.
The American struck the ball confidently from the first point against the seventh-seeded Medvedev. He broke the 2021 and 2022 Australian Open finalist in the first game and was a constant threat in return games, ultimately converting five out of 10 break points and holding his nerve in first and third-set tie-breaks to seal a fourth-round spot in style.
“It was an unbelievable match,” said Korda in his on-court interview. “I kind of knew what I had to do. I stuck with it even when I was going up and down with the emotions, but I’m thrilled right now, I played amazing, and it was an unbelievable match from me.”
With his two-hour, 59-minute win, Korda rose to No. 28 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings and is now likely to set a new career-high after the Australian Open. Meanwhile defeat saw former World No. 1 Medvedev drop out of the Top 10 in the Live Rankings, with the 26-year-old currently at No. 12.
In his first tournament of 2023, Korda defeated Andy Murray and Jannik Sinner en route to the final of the Adelaide International 1, where he held championship point before falling in three sets to Novak Djokovic. Having now dispatched Medvedev for his first Grand Slam win against a Top 10 opponent, the 2018 Australian Open boys’ singles champion will be feeling confident as he prepares to face Hubert Hurkacz in the next round.
The victory is another chapter in a success-filled story for Korda, as well as his family. The American’s father, former World No. 2 Petr Korda, won the Australian Open title in 1998, before Sebastian’s boys’ singles triumph in 2018.
Even Korda’s main draw debut last year in Melbourne was a relative triumph. He had spent the first week of the 2022 season in his Adelaide hotel room having caught COVID-19, leaving him just one week practising in Melbourne to prepare for the first Grand Slam of the year. Korda nonetheless defeated then-World No. 12 Cameron Norrie and Corentin Moutet to reach the third round before falling in four sets to Pablo Carreno Busta.
Fast-forward a year and Korda came out firing early against Medvedev on Rod Laver Arena, where he charged to a 4-1 lead with a double-break through a combination of impenetrable defence and powerful baseline ballstriking. However, the World No. 8 showed the resilience that took him to the Melbourne final in each of the past two years. He hauled himself back to 5-5 as he threatened to steal the opening set despite largely struggling to dictate play.
Yet being pegged back did not deter Korda, who maintained his composure in the first-set tie-break, converting his third set point to move ahead. He reasserted his dominance further in the second set, in which he clinched the only break in the second game, as Medvedev struggled to cope with the American’s offensive blitz.
A further break of the Medvedev serve in the opening game of the third set appeared to have Korda on course for a comfortable win, before the gravity of the occasion appeared to finally begin to affect the American. He missed an easy volley when serving at 4-3 40/15, and Medvedev took his chance to reignite his chances by breaking back and eventually forcing a tie-break.
Once again, however, Korda showed his ability to bounce back after disappointment. He manoeuvred Medvedev around the court with accurate groundstrokes and moved to the net whenever possible to finish points in a high-quality tie-break showing, charging to a 6/1 lead before converting his fourth match point and wrapping a two-hour, 59-minute win.
Korda’s aggressive approach saw the American strike 50 winners to Medvedev’s 28. Although he also registered 55 unforced errors to his opponent’s 26, Korda repeatedly found the corners at key moments to avenge his defeat in the pair’s previous tour-level meeting at the 2021 Rolex Paris Masters.