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Like Father Like Son, Korda Wins On Centre Court Debut

  • Posted: Jul 02, 2021

Sebastian Korda had not played in the main draw of The Championships at Wimbledon prior to this week, let along on Centre Court, but the #NextGenATP American competed with great maturity and composure on Friday for a place in the fourth round.

Korda revelled in the atmosphere, silencing the majority of the British support, to record a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over home hope Daniel Evans, the 21st seed, in two hours and 24 minutes.

“I just stayed calm in the biggest moments as much as I could,” said Korda. “I tried to stay relaxed and keep playing attacking tennis, that’s what I do. I’m really proud of myself for that today.”

“[It’s] a big achievement. A year ago, I was 220 in the world and I’m here in the fourth round at Wimbledon. It’s incredible. I have my family to thank, my coaches and everybody around me.”

Twenty-six years ago, his father, Petr Korda, had made his Centre Court debut by defeating fifth-seeded American Michael Chang 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the 1995 second round.

On Monday, when Korda celebrates his 21st birthday, the American will hope to overcome Russian 25th seed Karen Khachanov for a place in the Wimbledon quarter-finals. Should the World No. 50 triumph, he will match his father’s best performance at the All England Club, which came with a run to the 1998 last eight (l. to Henman).

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In a quick-fire first set, which lasted 25 minutes, Korda broke for a 5-3 lead after two consecutive forehand errors from Evans. Korda hit his 12th winner — a high forehand volley — to complete a strong performance, having won 20 of 26 service points.

Errors cost Korda at 2-3 in the second set, triggering a surge in confidence from Evans, who lost seven service points in the 34-minute passage of play. On three occasions, Korda came within a point of a 5-2 lead in the third set only to lose serve. However, a forehand error from Evans in the eighth game gifted Korda a chance to serve for the set.

While Evans took a 4-2 lead in the fourth set, the World No. 26 soon handed the break back to Korda. Once Evans hit a double fault at 4-4, 30/30, Korda didn’t look back and his opponent was left to shout from his chair, “Practise your serve, you’ve got to practise your serve”.  Korda finished the match with a smash winner, raising his arms in celebration.

Earlier this season, Korda, who is now 21-9 on the season, captured his first ATP Tour title in April at the Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma (d. Cecchinato). He also finished as runner-up at the Delray Beach Open by (l. to Hurkacz).

Last weekend, Korda’s sister, Nelly, captured her first Grand Slam golf tournament at the Women’s PGA Championships in Atlanta. “My dad won a Grand Slam [the 1998 Australian Open],” said Korda. “My sister just won her first major and is the No. 1 golfer in the world, so it’s super inspiring. It’s crazy.”

Having come into the Grand Slam championship in third position in the ATP Race To Milan, Korda has further boosted his chance of a place at the Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held from 9-13 November. 

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Kudla's Djokovic Formula: 'Let It Go, Play Free & Believe'

  • Posted: Jul 02, 2021

Wimbledon is “extra special” for Denis Kudla. It’s the tournament he has always dreamt of winning. And for a boy with a dream, the American has done well, competing in the main draw of The Championships seven times.

Kudla’s problem is that his next opponent is five-time champion Novak Djokovic, the World No. 1. Although defeating the 19-time Grand Slam winner is a daunting task for any player, the World No. 114 believes his mindset will be key.

“You need to go in playing these guys with all the belief in the world, execute my game plan,” Kudla said. “I need to play my ‘A’ game to beat him and the only way I’m going to do that is if I let it go, play free and believe.”

The first time Kudla played Djokovic was at Wimbledon two years ago, he was unable to play freely. The American did not find a way to settle down and he lost in just 93 minutes.

“Obviously Novak being tough as nails, I just didn’t settle at all. I was down 5-0 in about 10 minutes and I thought my worst nightmare was going to happen,” Kudla said. “Then at the [US] Open when I played him [later in 2019], I really settled. I was able to kind of push him a little bit more. But now going into this third match, I know what to expect. I know I’m capable of winning certain patterns if I execute in certain ways.”

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Djokovic is known for torturing opponents with his return of serve and Gumby-like flexibility. And according to Kudla, there are many more issues than that to deal with.

“His movement is pretty incredible when you’re playing him and then I think his serve is completely underrated,” Kudla said. “He was just hitting spot serves on big points and it was pretty difficult.”

Kudla has broken Djokovic just twice in six sets, and has not taken more than four games in a set against the all-time great. But one thing he has on his side is comfort on grass. The Ukrainian-born righty remembers playing an ITF juniors event in Philadelphia when he was a teen. Although he has grown to play his best tennis on the surface, it was not a perfect start.

“It was the worst grass. [I had] no idea what to do. We tried to serve and volley, but we were a bunch of 15, 16-year-olds that had no idea how to volley or do anything. Our serves were so slow, so it was not effective whatsoever and we were just messing around, not doing anything professional,” Kudla said. “It was an eye-opening experience.”

Once Kudla started to compete in professional events, grass began to grow on him. The American won his first ATP Tour match on the surface in Newport when he was 17. In 2015, he earned his career-best Grand Slam result when he advanced to the fourth round at Wimbledon.

“I didn’t necessarily do that great in the juniors, but coming into the pros as I got stronger, I hit the ball harder, I kind of knew my identity as a player,” Kudla said. “I knew that grass was going to be the best surface for me.”

Standing 5’11”, Kudla does not overwhelm opponents with jaw-dropping shotmaking. But he adjusts well to a grass court’s low bounces and manouevres the ball around the court to make things difficult for those across the net. The American also has an experienced grass-court player on his team in coach Robert Lindstedt, who made the Wimbledon doubles final in three consecutive years (2010-12).

Kudla believes that when facing an opponent of Djokovic’s calibre, players need to create their own game plan. But he does not shy away from looking to see what other players do successfully against the Serbian.

“You do look at guys [who] have been successful against Novak and have similar game styles as myself and see what was successful and what wasn’t successful,” Kudla said. “I’m not going to watch how Fed played Novak because I don’t play anything like Fed, so whatever he’s doing, I’m not going to be able to do that.

“It’s also just really tough to get any data on Novak that’s successful because he just wins so much, so all you’re going to see is a better way of not losing so badly.”

Kudla knows he has a big opportunity in front of him. Win or lose, he is eager for that chance.

“You want to play these guys early, you don’t want to play them late because they’re getting better and better,” Kudla said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

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Preview: Can Murray Rally Centre Court Again Vs Shapovalov?

  • Posted: Jul 02, 2021

From having fans cheering in the stands to having strawberries and cream at Wimbledon, tennis is taking nothing for granted amid the pandemic. Witnessing former World No. 1 Andy Murray fighting tooth and nail for an epic comeback on Centre Court felt like a comforting slice of normalcy on Wednesday night. But will the two-time former champion be recovered in time for his next big test as Day 5 dawns at SW19?

Murray is set to face 22-year-old Denis Shapovalov, the 10th seed, in the last match on Centre Court for a spot in the fourth round. Shapovalov has been going from strength to strength during the grass-court swing, reaching the quarter-finals in Stuttgart and semi-finals at The Queen’s Club.

Shapovalov will also come into the matchup rested and ready: While Murray was locked into a fifth set against qualifier Oscar Otte, the Canadian was watching from the comfort of the hotel after receiving a walkover from Pablo Andujar (rib injury) to move into the third round. 

“Honestly just as a tennis fan, it was fun to watch,” Shapovalov said of Murray’s 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 comeback. “[As] a fan of Andy’s, to see him back and moving so well, especially those last two sets, how he turned it around… It felt like he was the player that he was a couple of years back. It was really exciting to see.”

Along with his years of experience at Wimbledon and his never-say-die determination, Murray will have one other big weapon in his arsenal against Shapovalov in their first ATP Head2Head: the Centre Court crowd. They have willed him over the finish line many times in the past, and will be sure to give Shapovalov a debut to remember on this court.


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With the Centre Court crowd firmly behind him, Murray has already pulled off one improbable comeback during the fortnight. On Friday evening, he will be counting on them again… each and every single one of them.

“I picked a few people in the crowd and was basically staring at them pretty much after every point and trying to just engage with them,” Murray said after his win over Otte. “The crowd created a great atmosphere, but I think I was also engaging them and we were feeding off each other a lot at the end.

“I hope the fans like it and don’t think that it’s a bit weird that I’m sort of staring at them and screaming at them for like an hour, but they seem to enjoy it, as well.”


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Also in action on Day 5, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will headline No. 1 Court action as he meets Denis Kudla at a Grand Slam for the third time in their ATP Head2Head. Djokovic did not drop a set against the American, No. 114 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, when they faced off at Wimbledon or the US Open in 2019. 

Djokovic, who lifted the trophy here in 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019, is aiming for his third consecutive Gentlemen’s Singles Trophy. A victory at the end of the fortnight would secure an all-time record tying 20th Grand Slam crown – and tighten his grip on the pole position in the battle for year-end No. 1.  

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Elsewhere at the All England Club, fifth seed Andrey Rublev will take on 26th seed Fabio Fognini on No. 3 Court. The Italian owns the 5-2 ATP Head2Head edge over Rublev, but all of their meetings have taken place on hard and clay courts. The Russian, who won their most recent match at the ATP Cup en route to Russia’s victory, will be high on confidence on grass after reaching his first final on the surface last week in Halle.

Ninth seed Diego Schwartzman and 22nd seed Daniel Evans will also feature on Day 5, as Stefanos Tsitsipas makes his return to the All England Club for doubles with brother Petros Tsitsipas. 

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