Seven kilos heavier, Korda back to winning ways

American books Roland-Garros second round with straight sets victory over Mackenzie McDonald.

Sebastian Korda, first round, Roland-Garros 2023© Clément Mahoudeau/FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Three years ago in Paris, a star-struck Sebastian Korda realised he belonged in the upper echelons of tennis.

The American qualified for the Roland-Garros 2020 main draw and soared into the fourth round to take on his idol Rafael Nadal.

Despite succumbing to the Spaniard 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 on Court Philippe-Chatrier, Korda collected a special souvenir.

"The signed Rafa shirt is hanging in my room," he said.

"It was a really cool period for me, luckily [I] got a wildcard from the USTA, then just coming here, playing one match at a time, got lucky enough to make the fourth round, play against Rafa.

"I think that's where it all kind of started for me, and starting to feel comfortable around everyone."

The 22-year-old certainly looked comfortable on Sunday, dismissing compatriot Mackenzie McDonald 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 to take a first win since sustaining a right wrist injury during the Australian Open quarter-finals in January.

Three months followed on the sidelines "without touching a racquet", before first round defeats on the comeback trail in Madrid and Rome.

The world No.30 used his time outside the confines of the court wisely, concentrating on the physical to gun for Grand Slam glory.


"It's been a while since I won a tennis match, so it was nice to win one. Definitely gives me confidence to keep going," said Korda, who now takes on qualifier Sebastian Ofner in the second round.

"Lot's gone on, new addition to my team, bringing Jez Green, put a lot of weight on. I put like seven kilos of muscle on. Just kind of getting my feet comfortable again. Just one step at a time, kind of learning how to play again a little bit." 

Highly-regarded physical trainer Green has worked with players including Andy Murray and Alexander Zverev. For Korda, this lung-bursting work was an integral part of his next progression.

"At the beginning I couldn't relax my wrist, it was just kind of mental pain at some point," added Korda.

"I think it was obviously a tough period for me, but a blessing in disguise. I had three months to really build the body and set a base that will basically be with me for the rest of my career. 

"I think that was one of the things I needed most was to kind of get the body right. The tennis I always had. It was getting ready for these long best-of-five matches to make deep runs."

Cast your mind back to January and Korda defeated players including Murray and Jannik Sinner to earn an Adelaide final, where he went toe-to-toe with Novak Djokovic 6-7(8), 7-6(3), 6-4 for a runner-up finish.

Sebastian Korda, first round, Roland-Garros 2023© Julien Crosnier/FFT

A couple of weeks later and the American lit up Rod Laver Arena to outmanoeuvre world No.2 Daniil Medvedev on the march to the Australian Open last eight.

They are recent triumphs and Korda is keen to tap into those fresh experiences at Roland-Garros.  

"I'm pretty dangerous when it comes to a good hard court, even on clay I can be dangerous," said the world No.30.

"A lot of self-belief, knowing that I can close out these big matches against these big players, and really feeling that I'm one of the top players when it comes to Grand Slam levels."