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Star turn: Korda blending DNA with raw passion

  • Alex Sharp

Cool, calm and collected, Sebastian Korda is taking it all in his stride.

The athletic American is guiding his 196cm frame around the tennis court with increasing conviction and dynamism (including the family trademark scissor-kick celebration).

Yes, he has the "Kordashians" facet to his success, but the 21-year-old is carving out his own impressive sporting career, with an Australian Open 2022 third round spot on main draw debut.

MORE: Men's singles results AO 2022

Proving his composure and comfort at this level, the world No.43 found the answers in a high quality 3-6 6-4 6-7(2) 7-5 7-6[10-6] encounter with fiery Frenchman Corentin Moutet. 

Remember Korda couldn't play a lead-up event due to a positive Covid result in Adelaide.

The Court 8 crowd were in raptures, coming up with all sorts of chants such as "Sebi Korda, Sebi Korda, Ole, Ole, Ole."

The headband-wearing blond simply has the X-factor: he's been snapped on social media sharing the fairway with Tiger Woods, and had training camps with Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf. It's a stage Korda has settled into.

"The crowd was so good. They were basically chanting from the first point of the match," recalled the American, building quite the fanbase. "They were getting wild and it was really nice.

"It was a great atmosphere on a small court, which was really cool. Just super happy with the ending. Second ever five-setter. Tired, but very happy."

On Monday, Korda dismantled 12th seed Cameron Norrie to the loss of just seven games and then portrayed his fighting qualities against Moutet, sling-shotting 67 winners and canvassing the net with a 66/94 success rate.

MORE: Men's singles draw AO 2022

He'll need to be on song again to take down 19th seed Pablo Carreno Busta in the last 32.

"He's a tough opponent. I've never played with him. I practiced with him once. It's another great challenge for me, another great player and really excited for it."

Korda's goal in 2022 is to crack the top 30

Should Korda sneak through, the 21-year-old could meet Carlos Alcaraz in the fourth round. The Spanish teenage sensation, who defeated Korda in the Next Gen ATP Finals trophy showdown in November, meets seventh seed Matteo Berrettini in the third round. There is a chance for both young guns to prove the landscape in men's tennis is truly shifting.

"It would be really cool. It's a long way away. I'm really good friends with Carlos. He's a super nice kid. We played a good match in Milan and I'm sure in our careers we'll play plenty more," said Korda. "So it's always exciting, but it's a lot of work ahead for us to get there."

It feels like the world No.43 is poised to make a major move and should he need a pep talk for the challenges ahead, he only needs to head onto the family Whatsapp group.

It's a well-documented family, but still astonishing that his father is Petr, the former world No.2 and 1998 Australian Open champion. His sisters are both pro golfers – Nelly is a major champion and is currently No.1 in the rankings. 

"It's always special. A lot of history in the family here in Australia, my dad winning here and then both my sisters winning the Australian women's golf tournament. So it's a lot of success here," enthused the main draw debutant. 

"The fans are incredible. The tournament's unbelievable and just really comfortable, they always make me feel like home here."

Although he "always found inspiration" from watching DVDs of his dad's "flashy" matches as a kid, Korda is now on his own trajectory.

Winning the Australian Open 2018 boys' trophy provided a springboard for his meteoric rise up the rankings.

"Probably the one thing that stands out is I ate chicken parma 10 nights in a row at this restaurant right next to our hotel," quipped Korda. "I went there every single night, had the same meal.

"But it was a lot of fun. Juniors in a way it's like a team. You're always traveling with someone. You have a roommate. It was a lot of great memories from that week and I think that really gave me a big jump into what I'm doing now."

The 21-year-old, who had managed to reach the fourth round at Roland-Garros 2020 and Wimbledon 2021, is chasing a season goal of cracking the top 30. However, he has some compatriots vying for supremacy too.

"There's always an American pushing going further in tournaments, so it's inspiring for all of us," added Korda. "It was great to see Taylor (Fritz) finishing the year the way that he did, he's playing some incredible tennis, and Reilly (Opelka) playing in Toronto, Jenson Brooksby, Brandon Nakashima, Tommy Paul.

"I think there's a little competitiveness in all of us and we're all pushing each other and I think it's a great thing for ourselves and American tennis in general."

Fighting against the world's best, America's finest, the expectations attached to the family name, it's all in his stride. Korda is primed to keep on scissor kicking up and up.