Another day, another milestone for Sebastian Korda to add to his checklist.
This past Saturday at the Miami Open, the 20-year-old notched his first Top 20 victory when he rallied to win in three sets against Fabio Fognini. He followed that up a tremendous 6-3, 6-0 win over No. 17 seed Aslan Karatsev.
What came next? What else, for the surging Korda—his first win over a Top 10 opponent.
“My parents are super big on just baby steps. You can play tennis for so long if you stay healthy for 15-plus years,” Korda told press Tuesday, following a 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 win over ninth-ranked Diego Schwartzman. “Especially guys now, they are playing until 40. It's incredible. There is a lot of years ahead of me.”
With no shortage of energy from both sides and the fans in the stands, the Florida native prevailed in a tight content. After failing to serve out the clash at 5-4, 40-30, Korda went right back to work. His deep hitting handcuffed Schwartzman, who netted a forehand to drop serve for the fourth time, and Korda ended the contest with a forehand winner to finish off the No. 5 seed in two hours and 35 minutes.
“I think mentally I was great out there. I stayed calm,” reflected Korda. “Even when in the tight situations I believed in myself and I went for it. I'm super proud of that.”
“He has very good timing, good serve, good movements. He looks like he's playing in ATP Tour since many years ago,” assessed Schwartzman, who previously compared Korda to Tomas Berdych.
Korda spoke about how much he loved South Florida in his Tennis Channel interview Monday, and it’s hard not to see why. The Bradenton product is now 8-1 in the Sunshine State this season, having reached his first ATP final at January’s rescheduled Delray Beach Open.
At this point last year, when the ATP rankings were frozen, Korda was ranked No. 224. He’s currently projected to rise to No. 76 with this latest performance, and the Top 50 is in sight if he can find a way to outdo fourth seed Andrey Rublev on Thursday.
“I think it will be a lot of fun. We are both big hitters, and he's having a great season,” Korda said of the Russian. “He's probably the hottest player on tour right now, and it's going to be another cool opportunity for me and another cool experience to play such a player like him.”
Rublev defeated Marin Cilic, 6-4, 6-4, improving to 19-3 on the year. The world No. 8, coming off his eighth title earlier this month in Rotterdam, is through to the quarterfinals on the 1000 stage for just the second time (2019 Cincinnati).