Connected Korda keeping to his own path

 - Alex Sharp

The American youngster is making another major move with a second week ticket on debut at Wimbledon.

Sebastian Korda Wimbledon 2021©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Rolling the shoulders, giant strides from his 6’5” frame, Sebastian Korda strolls around a tennis court with such purpose, almost in tranquillity. 

Just 20-years-old, with a family name of sporting significance, the American is taking it all in his stride.

In similar fashion to his breakout Grand Slam at Roland-Garros 2020, Korda has stormed into the fourth round at Wimbledon on his main draw debut, where he’ll meet No.25 seed Karen Khachanov

“Just always sticking with what I was taught,” is the secret. Well, it’s working well so far at SW19. 

The world No.50’s extensive on-court armoury was taught at the IMG Academy in Florida whilst also learning the ropes from a winning formula engrained in the family.

You’ve probably heard, but Korda’s sisters are both ranked within the top 15 of the world. In fact, Sebastian watched sister Nelly (now world No.1) win the Women’s PGA Championship last month huddled around a phone in his London hotel room.

Here’s the tennis IQ. His father Petr won the 1998 Australian Open (owning the scissor kick celebration) and reached world No.2 It’s Petr who is frequently asked for quotes and inrterviews, but ‘Sebi’ credits his temperament on his mother Regina Rajchrtova, who made it to No.26 on the WTA as well as a second round showing at Wimbledon 1990. 

“From when I was I'd say 12 years old till about 14, 15, I was basically raised by my mom because my sister Nelly, she was on the LPGA. My dad would caddy for her,” stated Korda, having dismissed British No.1 Dan Evans on Centre Court on Friday.

“She was super big on always having a poker face, never showing your opponent what you're feeling 

“I used that pretty well today. I have her to thank because she's taught me so much. Just was always staying calm, always positive, just to keep doing my thing.”

Alongside the supremely athletic genes and tennis background, the Kordas have connections. That’s how a certain Andre Agassi has come into the fold. 

The American icon and 1992 Wimbledon champion has been speaking to the Next Gen youngster for the best part of a year, including a two-week training block in Las Vegas during the off-season. 

“My dad kind of set it up. He's been awesome. He welcomed me into his family. He has an incredible family. Everybody is super nice. Kind of like a family like ours. Both my parents play tennis. He and Steffi play tennis. He has a son and a daughter who are incredible at baseball. She's a world-class street dancer I'm pretty sure. Our families are a little bit alike,” acknowledged Korda.

“He's just a special person. We talk basically every single day, every single match about how I'm feeling, what I should do. But the most important thing he told me yesterday was just to enjoy it. It's your first time on Centre Court at Wimbledon, just enjoy it, embrace it, have a lot of fun.”

So far at SW19 the world No.50 has dispatched No.15 seed Alex de Minaur in four sets, prior to his commanding triumph over Evans, where Korda was competing in one of the most prestigious arenas in sport.

“I hear stories all the time about how incredible the Centre Court is, how incredible the fans are. To finally get to experience that today, it was awesome. Just crazy,” said Korda, somehow taking it all in his stride.

“I kind of just blocked out there today, and played some really good tennis. Stayed calm. I was hoping with my match kit, it was white and red. I was hoping maybe I'd get some fans with that for England. Yeah, they were cheering hard for Dan. But it was just awesome to play in front of them. 

“Just to get the opportunity to play there before my 21st birthday is pretty special. Yeah, just felt incredibly comfortable. It was perfect.”

Sebastian Korda Wimbledon 2021©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

That’s the key, Korda is comfortable on the major stage, despite the hype, expectations and links to his father’s career. 

The Korda family and team (Agassi included) have managed to mould an athlete satisfied to follow his own path to the top. 

I wasn't expecting all this I guess you could say success so early. My parents were always so big into just baby steps. You have a different journey than everybody else,” maintained the American. 

“These guys have already been here playing these tournaments for two or three years that are around my age. I think I appreciate things a little bit more because I've been at the lowest level of tennis, I've built my way up. I'm just super grateful that I have those experiences and my parents to thank for that.”