Sebastian Korda delivered a special third-round performance on Friday to down two-time finalist Daniil Medvedev at the Australian Open. So special in fact, that it had an ATP legend in a different time zone glued to his screen in the middle of the night.
Andre Agassi has been a mentor to Korda for the past couple of years, during which the American has developed into one of the most exciting young players on the ATP Tour. After notching his maiden Grand Slam win against a Top 10 opponent on Rod Laver Arena, the 22-year-old revealed that the eight-time Grand Slam champion Agassi had stayed up until the early hours to watch but wouldn’t be hanging around to hear more about the post-match celebrations.
“He texted me. He’s going to bed now,” said Korda when asked about the eight-time Grand Slam champion Agassi, who resides in Las Vegas, at his post-match press conference. “That’s the last thing he sent me.
“He’s one of the most special people in my life. We started talking during COVID in 2020. He’s been one of the biggest parts in my rise. Just overall just as a tennis player, as a human being. We spend a lot of time together. Yeah, he’s very special to me.
As to be expected when playing a former World No. 1 and 15-time tour-level titlist, Korda was kept on his toes throughout Friday’s victory despite the straight-sets scoreline. Medvedev rallied from 1-4 in the first set and 2-4 in the third set to force tie-breaks in both, but Korda believes a new mental approach was the key to keeping his cool whenever the momentum began to shift.
“I just kind of really, really worked hard on just zero negative thoughts,” said Korda, who started his 2023 season by reaching the final at the Adelaide International 1, where he held championship point in the final before narrowly falling to Novak Djokovic. “I mean, throughout this whole year, I haven’t had one negative thought, whether it’s waiting for transportation to go to the courts, whether it’s eating lunch, whether it’s doing anything.
“That’s one of the biggest things, is kind of just having a new motto of positive energy, is more positive than negative energy. As soon as you get something negative, it can take you the opposite direction.
“Anything that happens, just thinking in the most positive possible way, just going forward. Same thing in the match. Losing my serve after being 40-15 up, you know. ‘It’s OK, next point. Don’t worry, keep going, do your thing’.”
Korda’s triumph was the latest in a string of upsets at what is proving to be an unpredictable Australian Open. With top seed Rafael Nadal, second seed Casper Ruud and now Medvedev all falling by the wayside, the men’s singles draw appears as open as ever. Korda is not looking past his next challenge, however, as he next prepares to take on 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz.
“His serve is definitely one of the best on Tour,” said Korda of Hurkacz, who leads the American 1-0 in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series. “Just the way he moves. Kind of similar style a little bit to Daniil. I’m really looking forward to it. We practise [together] quite a bit.
“Usually whenever we practise, he actually wins the tournament. I always give him jokes about that. I’m looking forward to it. It’s exciting, the fourth round of a Grand Slam. I’ll be ready to go.”