Korda stuns 2-time finalist Medvedev in Australian Open 3rd round

Melbourne, Australia, Jan 20 (EFE).- Sebastian Korda showcased his full arsenal of weapons to stun 2021 and 2022 runner-up Daniil Medvedev 7-6 (9-7), 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) in an Australian Open third-round contest that began Friday night and finished after 1 am.

After having his serve broken in a more than 10-minute opening game and then falling behind 4-1, the eighth-ranked Medvedev appeared to be weaving his impenetrable defensive web when he rallied to force a first-set tiebreaker.

But the 31st-ranked Korda struck five winners in the “breaker” and then wrapped up the opener on his third set point when a deep return of serve forced the Russian to net a backhand.

The American was broken three times in the opening set but then started controlling his service games thanks to his potent first serve, powerful hitting from the baseline and selective use of the drop shot and of serve and volley, a tactic he employed to perfection to seal the second set.

Korda’s aggressive mindset stood in contrast to the more defensive approach of the 6-foot-6 Medvedev, who for the first set and a half seemed content to lure the American into long rallies and rely on his tremendous reach and court coverage and uncanny counter-punching skills to win points.

But that strategy was simply a losing one Friday night at Rod Laver Stadium.

After striking just 15 winners through two sets, 19 fewer than his opponent, Medvedev was forced to start taking more risks and appeared to seize the momentum of the contest when he rallied from a 4-2 deficit to take a 5-4 lead.

But Korda kept his composure to force a tiebreaker and then raced out to a 6-1 lead in that decider.

The 22-year-old American, whose father, Czech-born Petr Korda, won this event in 1998, then sealed the biggest win of his young career on his third match point when one final forehand landed just inside the sideline.

“It was an unbelievable match,” 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.”

In other third-round action Friday in the men’s draw, three title contenders – Greek world No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas, 16th-ranked Italian Jannik Sinner and seventh-ranked Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime – managed to avoid the upset bug.

While Tsitsipas rolled past Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor 6-2, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 and Auger-Aliassime comfortably topped Argentina’s Francisco Cerundulo 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, Sinner faced a two-set deficit before storming back to defeat Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-0.

In another big-hitting third-round battle Friday night, Russian world No. 20 Karen Khachanov edged 17th-ranked American Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (11-9).

In the women’s draw, Polish world No. 1 Iga Swiatek looked in championship form in a 6-0, 6-1 demolition of Spanish qualifier Cristina Bucsa.

With the win, the reigning French Open and US Open champion set up a fourth-round clash with the current Wimbledon title holder, 25th-ranked Kazakh Elena Rybakina, who defeated 2022 Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 on Friday.

Two other top-10 players also scored convincing victories on Friday, with third-ranked American Jessica Pegula routing Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk 6-0, 6-2 and seventh-ranked American Cori Gauff cruising past countrywoman Bernarda Pera 6-3, 6-2.

But sixth-ranked Maria Sakkari of Greece failed to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the fourth event in a row when she fell to China’s Zhu Lin 7-6 (7-3), 1-6, 6-4. EFE


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