It is easy to forget that one year ago, Sebastian Korda was still outside the Top 200 in the FedEx ATP Ranking. Now the #NextGenATP American is at a career-high World No. 42, and based on his performance Tuesday at the San Diego Open, he is still on the way up.
Korda battled past countryman Tommy Paul 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 after two hours and 11 minutes to reach the second round as he pursues his second ATP Tour title.
“I’m just having fun. A year ago I was ranked 220 in the world. Now I’m 42 in the world,” Korda said in his on-court interview. “It’s been a big jump for me and [I am] just having fun.”
Paul used his athleticism to hit some sensational passing shots and jaw-dropping returns to turn around the second set. But Korda, who saved seven of the eight break points he faced, was the more consistent player, which allowed him to surge ahead in the third set after he broke with a missile-like backhand passing shot.
“It was tough. Tommy started playing a lot better. In the first set I was playing really well and dictating really well and then he was coming up clutch in some big moments,” Korda said. “I just played better in the third set.”
Korda, who joined fellow #NextGenATP American Brandon Nakashima in the second round, will next play ninth seed Lorenzo Sonego, who beat Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3, 6-4.
Korda and Sonego have split their first two ATP Head2Head matches, both of which came earlier this year. The Italian triumphed in Montpellier on an indoor hard court before the American returned the favour by beating Sonego in Parma en route to his maiden tour-level trophy.
Did You Know?
Korda is one of four players who have booked their spot at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, which will be held from 9-13 November. The other players who have qualified are Felix Auger-Aliassime, Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz.