'It's allowed!' – Genius, fluke or bad sportsmanship? Korda's baffling winner

Sebastian Korda and Corentin Moutet played out a pulsating and fiery five-set thriller in the second round of the Australian Open with plenty of drama.

The fans around Court 8 at Melbourne Park were raucous and delighted at the treat they were served up by both players with Korda eventually clinching a 3-6 6-4 6-7(2) 7-5 7-6(6) victory.

Moutet, ever the showman, even posed for a selfie before the decisive 10-point tie-break in an absurd and entertaining moment in the four-hour, 47-minute clash.

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But the moment to remember was a bizarre point which ended with Korda appearing to leave a ball that was close to the baseline, before suddenly sticking out a racquet and pulling off a crazy drop shot.

To say that Moutet was less-than-impressed by the stunt, whether accidental or intentional, would be an understatement.

The Frenchman felt that Korda had deliberately pretended to leave the ball to indicate that it had drifted long, before fooling him with a last-gasp flick. But did he really mean to do it?

Korda, who shocked Britain’s Cameron Norrie in the first round, celebrated and soaked up the ovation from the jubilant crowd, but did look both sheepish and baffled himself.

Moutet remonstrated with the umpire after his initial confusion and suggested that it was a case of bad sportsmanship from his opponent.

“It’s allowed!” the umpire could be heard to say to a bewildered Moutet.

Regardless of whether it was a genius piece of showboating that Nick Kyrgios would have been proud of, a total blunder that turned out to be a fluke, or the poor form that Moutet suggested, it was both dramatic and amusing.
The 21-year-old will next take on Pablo Carreno Busta, who himself produced a wacky shot on the same day with a winner played from inside his opponent’s half of the court.

Have you seen this before? Carreno Busta wins point from opponent’s side of net

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Korda Snatches Victory From Jaws Of Defeat

After shocking 12th seed Cameron Norrie in the first round of the Australian Open, Sebastian Korda nearly fell victim to an upset bid from World No. 100 Corentin Moutet on Wednesday.

Instead, the American survived, clawing past the Frenchman 3-6, 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-5, 7-6(6) as he battled to his first career fifth-set win.

Moutet served for the match at 5-4 in the fourth set, but Korda secured his fifth break of the day to extend the four-hour, 47-minute match. Both men escaped 0/40 holes in the final set before Moutet saved two match points at 5-6 to force a decisive 10-point tie-break.

Korda, who is making his Australian Open debut, will now face 19th seed Pablo Carreno Busta in the third round.

The American was the aggressor throughout, frequently taking up position inside the baseline and getting to the net on 94 occasions and winning 70 per cent of those points. Moutet was content to sit back and showed great patience in timing his own attacks, finishing with 61 winners to Korda’s 67.

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For much of the match, Korda was intent on working the ball to the Frenchman’s lefty backhand with his cross-court forehand. But Moutet coolly answered with a combination of jumping, drive backhands and smooth slices to keep Korda from taking the initiative.

Neither man had an easy time on serve in the clash. Korda stared down 23 break points, saving 18 of them of them, while converting five of his 14 break chances on the return.

The 21-year-old also lost the unforced error battle decisively, tallying 92 miscues to his opponent’s 58. But despite a minus-25 on the winners-to-errors count, he found the court at the crucial moments to survive.

This was just the second five-setter of the American’s career, after he lost a heartbreaker to Karen Khachanov in the fourth round of Wimbledon last year, 10-8 in the fifth set. The 2018 Aussie Open boys’ singles champion also reached the last 16 at Roland Garros in 2020, when he made his major debut as a qualifier before losing to Rafael Nadal.

‘Forget the ranking,’ Wilander urges Norrie after first-round defeat

Cameron Norrie has been urged to “forget his ranking” by Eurosport expert Mats Wilander after the 12th seed exited the Australian Open in the first round.

The Briton rose up the rankings thanks to an incredible 2021 season, where he won the Los Cabos Open in July before winning his first Masters 1000 event three months later at Indian Wells.

Results catapulted the 26-year-old to world No. 12, having started 2021 at No. 71, but he was no match for Sebastian Korda on Monday, losing 6-3 6-0 6-4 to the 21-year-old American Next Gen star.

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“You have to be surprised when a player as good as Norrie loses in straight sets to anyone,” Wilander said.

“Obviously there is a bit of pressure on Norrie, he’s one of the best players in the world, and he was up against Korda, who is maybe the young superstar coming through from America.

“It was an incredibly tough draw, and more than it’s disappointing for Norrie, this is a situation where we have to start thinking Korda is a world beater, and he can really go all the way soon in Grand Slams.

“The pressure you feel when you are a target because of your ranking, because of your results, that’s the feeling the greatest players in the world deal with.

Australian Open 2022 highlights – Norrie crashes out to Korda

“They know that is the way but they are so good at looking their opponent in the eye and it’s still just a tennis match, it’s a fight, it’s you and I.

“That’s why Norrie got to where he is now. It’s really important that part of his attitude does not change, that he does not even talk about feeling like he’s the hunted now.”

Norrie had lost all of his three ATP Cup rubbers heading into the Australian Open, albeit to tricky opponents in Alexander Zverev, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Taylor Fritz.

Wilander, a three-time Australian Open champion, believes Norrie must revert to the approach that helped him become a seeded player in order to get back to winning ways.

“When you play tennis the way Norrie does, when he’s fighting for every single point, if you start to look at your ranking and look ahead, suddenly you’re not looking at your opponent,” Wilander added.

“His strength, is that he’s like a bulldog, on top of you and fighting you. He needs to get back to that – forget about the ranking.”

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Korda Begins Season With Aussie Open Win

It may not come as a shock that Sebastian Korda upset 12th seed Cameron Norrie in the first round of the Australian Open. But few could have predicted the dominance with which the 21-year-old American dispatched his British opponent on Monday on his debut in Melbourne.

The World No. 43 cruised past Norrie 6-3, 6-0, 6-4, in the sort of never-in-doubt route normally reserved for the game’s elite. A former boys’ singles champion Down Under, Korda had the World No. 12 under his thumb from the first ball of the match.

Thanks to an immediate break in each set, Korda never trailed in Kia Arena. He did save three break points in the match—one in each set—in addition to converting on five of his 10 break point chances.

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The American was competing for the first time this season and celebrated his one-hour, 42-minute win in style, punctuating the victory with a scissor kick in honour of his father and coach, 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda.

Next up for Korda, who captured his maiden tour-level title in Parma last year, is the winner of the all-French clash between World No. 100 Corentin Moutet and wild card Lucas Pouille.

Norrie won tour-level titles in Los Cabos and Indian Wells in 2021 and made his debut at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin as an alternate. However, the 26-year-old has yet to find his top form this season.

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Norrie crashes out to ruthless Korda in straight sets

Cameron Norrie has been knocked out of the opening round of the Australian Open after falling to Sebastian Korda 6-3 6-0 6-4.

Norrie struggled to get into a rhythm against his American opponent, who was making his main draw debut at the Australian Open, and was bagelled in the second set which has not happened to the Brit since 2019.

Korda took just 32 minutes to take the first set and rattled off the opening three games comfortably to build up a commanding lead. Norrie held his service games for the remainder of the set, but was not enough to get back into the opener.

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Korda’s confidence grew in the second set with the 21-year-old’s first serve proving a real problem for his British opponent. Norrie failed to register a break point as Korda went on a seven-game winning streak.

The third set was equally rapid as Korda, who was playing in his first match in 2022, converted his fifth break point in the opening game with a rocket of a backhand when he returned a Norrie serve.

No. 12 seed Norrie got onto the scoreboard 15 minutes into the third set with a comfortable hold of serve and was finding more joy at the net, but Korda’s break in the opening game proved pivotal as he held his service games to secure his place in the next round.

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From Hunter To Hunted, Korda Says Bring It On!

Sebastian Korda won’t be flying under the radar this year.

After a breakout full rookie season in 2021 when he won 31 tour-level matches and finished at No. 41 in the ATP Rankings, opponents will need to do little digging to find scouting reports on the former junior World No. 1. More success brings more scrutiny and Korda knows that he won’t catch anyone by surprise in 2022.

“Last year I was hunting everyone and now people are going to be hunting me, so it’s going to be a new thing that I’m going to experience and hopefully I’m going to do really well with it,” Korda told ATPTour.com this week at the Australian Open.

“I’ve always been around pressure with my dad [former World No. 2 Petr Korda], and how great of a tennis player he was, and my family with both of my sisters [World No. 1 LPGA star Nelly and former Top 10 member Jessica]. So, I’m used to it, I’m doing something that I love and all the pressure that I get is just good pressure.”

Korda, who reached the final of November’s Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan (l. Alcaraz), faces a difficult opener at Melbourne Park against Brit Cameron Norrie. Although Korda defeated the lefty en route to the Delray Beach final in the first week of last season, Norrie enjoyed a breakout season of his own in 2021, finishing the year at a career-high No. 12.

“It will be another exciting match for me. He had an incredible season, especially towards the end of year; he’s playing some good tennis and hopefully we can have a good match,” said the 2018 Australian Open boys’ champion.

“He’s got a really tricky game… he has a really high-looping forehand and then a kind of bunt of a backhand, so it’s two different game styles… and he’s a lefty. It’s always difficult to play a lefty and he does a really good job with how he plays.”

The Australian Open marks Korda’s 2022 tournament debut after he was forced to withdraw from the Adelaide International 1 in the first week of the season after testing positive for Covid-19. He was forced to isolate for seven days in Adelaide. Upon release, he headed straight to Melbourne to practise rather than remain in Adelaide to play the Adelaide International 2.

“It was kind of a weird case. I took a test two days before I left [the United States], the day before I left and when I arrived it was positive,” he said. “So it was weird for me but luckily I had no symptoms and Tennis Australia took really good care of me. They gave me equipment right away so I was never bored in the room and I could at least work a little bit.

“I was still playing a little bit of tennis in my room, so I still had a little feel for the ball, and I was moving around my room, so it wasn’t too bad.

“I was doing sessions over the computer with my physio and my fitness trainer, just to always be doing something and get the body moving. The thing I was looking forward to most was definitely fresh air. You take a lot for granted.”

As he begins his 2022 campaign, 6’ 5” Korda said that he expects the season ahead will be full of learnings and opportunities, including the chance to drive his ranking higher through likely direct acceptances into all the ATP Masters 1000s.

“The goal is just to keep going. It’s going to be my first official full year on the tour so another exciting year up ahead of me, so just keep on learning and keep on doing the right things and hopefully I can just keep on climbing the rankings.

“Half the tournaments that are on the Tour I haven’t even played yet, so it’s going to be new learning experiences and it’s going to be fun.”

Basilashvili-Murray Rematch Headline Australian Open Matches To Watch

The Australian Open draw was released on Thursday afternoon in Melbourne. ATPTour.com looks at five of the blockbuster first-round showdowns you should watch.

No. 21 Nikoloz Basilashvili vs. Andy Murray
Former World No. 1 Andy Murray just defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 6-3 in three hours and 13 minutes two days ago at the Sydney Tennis Classic. It will not take long for Basilashvili to get a shot at revenge.

The big-hitting Georgian will try to earn his first win against Murray in Melbourne, where the Scot is a five-time finalist. Murray leads their ATP Head2Head 2-0, having also triumphed in four sets against Basilashvili at Wimbledon last year.

“Certainly it’s a tough, tough draw. Last night’s match was brutal, so I would expect another difficult one. Conditions in Melbourne are different to here,” Murray said. “There potentially it’s going to be hotter, a little bit livelier, ball bouncing a little bit higher. So it will be a different match because [it is a] different city, different conditions, different court and stuff.

“Just because I won against him yesterday doesn’t mean I get a free pass into the second round. I need to go out and play another top match to win against him in Melbourne.”

No. 7 Matteo Berrettini vs. Brandon Nakashima
One of the most intriguing first-round clashes in Melbourne is a first-time meeting between two of the purest ball-strikers on Tour. The tennis balls will certainly take a beating when Italian star Matteo Berrettini faces 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals competitor Brandon Nakashima.

Berrettini had a big year at the majors in 2021, advancing to at least the fourth round at all four and making his first major final at Wimbledon. But Nakashima is a fearless player who if allowed to control points will jump on the opportunity. The American earned wins against Alex de Minaur, John Isner, Milos Raonic and Daniel Evans among others last year, and defeated Fabio Fognini this week in Sydney.

Will Nakashima add Berrettini to his list of conquered opponents Down Under?

<img src="https://sportblogg.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/berrettini-atp-cup-2022-day-4-forehand.jpg" alt="Matteo Berrettini“>
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
No. 12 Cameron Norrie vs. Sebastian Korda
When Cameron Norrie and Sebastian Korda met in the Delray Beach semi-finals at the start of 2021, neither man was in the Top 70 of the ATP Rankings. Now they are both in the Top 40 and set to clash for a spot in the second round of the Australian Open.

Korda won their match in Delray Beach in straight sets to advance to his maiden ATP Tour final, and that was just the beginning of a breakout season that saw him earn a spot in Milan, where he made the championship match (l. to Alcaraz). It was an even better year for Norrie, who claimed his first tour-level title in Los Cabos, his maiden ATP Masters 1000 trophy at Indian Wells and an alternate spot at the Nitto ATP Finals, where he played two matches.

Norrie wears his opponents down with his physicality and speed at the back of the court, while Korda takes it to his opponents. The Brit will give his younger opponent time to get on top of points, but will Korda be able to take advantage?

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No. 23 Reilly Opelka vs. Kevin Anderson
The first time Reilly Opelka and Kevin Anderson met was in Atlanta in 2016. Opelka was just 18 at the time, while Anderson was a well-established force on the ATP Tour who would later make two major finals. The teen American triumphed in three sets to reach his first ATP Tour quarter-final.

Six years later, this will be just their second clash. This time, however, the roles are reversed, and Opelka will be the favourite.

Anderson is still working his way back from injury, which has him at No. 101 in the ATP Rankings. The South African has shown flashes of his best tennis, winning his seventh ATP Tour title last year in Newport. But he has lacked the consistency that once helped him to a career-high World No. 5.

Opelka, however, has proven himself one of the most dangerous players on Tour with his devastating serve and ever-improving baseline game. The American is into the semi-finals this week in Sydney, where he will play Murray for a place in the final.

<img src="https://sportblogg.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/opelka-us-open-2021-thursday.jpg" alt="Reilly Opelka“>
Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images
No. 32 Alex de Minaur vs. Lorenzo Musetti
Alex de Minaur loves competing on home soil in Australia, and Lorenzo Musetti enjoys the big stage. That should make for a fun opening-round clash in Melbourne between two of the sport’s rising stars.

De Minaur began his 2022 well with two wins at the ATP Cup against Berrettini and Ugo Humbert, respectively. But he will have to be at his best against Musetti, one of the craftiest young players on Tour.

Although the 19-year-old has struggled for his best form since his hot start to 2021, he has plenty of tools in his arsenal to make for a tricky match. The 2021 Milan competitor has plenty of variety with his one-handed backhand, and he uses many spins and shot speeds to trouble his opponents. Will that be enough to upset the home favourite?

De Minaur, Team Australia
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Sebastian Korda Meets Tiger Woods During Memorable Golf Weekend

After the first round of the PNC Championship on Saturday, LPGA World No. 1 Nelly Korda walked up to PGA legend Tiger Woods and asked him for a picture. Nelly also had her brother, ATP Tour star Sebastian Korda and their father, former World No. 2 Petr Korda, take a photo with Woods. 

When Nelly introduced Tiger to “Sebi”, Woods quickly produced a friendly quip: “What’s up big guy? Aren’t you supposed to be practising?”

“Meeting Tiger was unbelievable. He was so nice,” Sebi, a recent Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals competitor, said. “He’s probably our family’s favourite athlete. Any time he would play a tournament, we were all glued to the TV.”

Nelly and Petr were competing together in the event, in which a member of each team has won at least one major championship or PLAYERS Championship crown. In their debut, the Korda Family finished 12th (-17). They did not make a bogey across the two rounds.

After Nelly drained a lengthy birdie on the 18th hole on Saturday, she celebrated with Petr and Sebi. Currently No. 41 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, Sebi caddied six holes for his father during the first round.

“I had the easy job. I only caddied six holes on the back nine and Nelly’s caddy Jason [McDede] was helping me out,” Sebi said. “I’ve never been inside the ropes during the tournament and was really cool to hear what they talk about before each and every shot.“

It was a memorable weekend for the Korda Family. Sebi, who is scheduled to make his 2022 season debut in Week One in Adelaide, enjoys playing golf himself. He had fun alongside his sister and father as they competed on such a big stage.

<img src="https://sportblogg.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/korda-nelly-december-2021.jpg" alt="Sebastian Korda and Nelly Korda”>
Sebastian Korda takes a picture with his sister, Nelly Korda, on Saturday.
“It was so much fun to caddy for my dad and sister Nelly at such a huge event with some of the best golfers,” Korda said. “I’ve never been around my dad while he’s playing any kind of tournament, so that was pretty special to see as well.”

Petr has thrived under pressure, having won the 1998 Australian Open. But this was a different experience in a different sport. The most important thing for the 10-time tour-level champion was getting to compete with his daughter. Nelly and Petr were quick to tell the media that they would love to play the event again if invited.

“It was very difficult. I was very nervous, I’m not going to hide it, especially before yesterday going around. I called my old coach, Tony Pickard, and asked him not for advice, but to calm me down,” Petr said during his post-event press conference. “It was a great experience. I enjoyed every moment of it.

“It’s easier to walk outside the ropes, which I believe [is where] I belong. But if we have one more chance in the future, I would love to do it again. Just being with Nelly and what she’s bringing to women’s sports and women’s golf and myself to be a part of it, what more can I ask?”