ATP

'Very, very lucky' Nadal fends off fightback from big fan Korda to stay perfect in 2022

By Sports Desk March 12, 2022

Rafael Nadal offered his sympathy to Sebastian Korda after scraping past the 21-year-old, who considers his Indian Wells Masters opponent "my biggest idol".

Korda had trained with Nadal earlier this week before the draw paired the two together – an eagerly awaited encounter for the younger man.

Korda is such a big Nadal fan his cat is named after the Spaniard, but he caused some concern for the 21-time major champion and his other supporters on Saturday.

Having talked up the meeting, it looked as though the occasion might get the better of Korda as he quickly fell 4-0 down in the opener.

Nadal had not dropped a set since victory at the Australian Open – one of three tournaments he has entered this year and three tournaments he has won.

But that perfect 15-0 record suddenly came under threat in the second set, as Korda sought to prolong his dream match-up and stunned his hero 6-1.

Suddenly, Nadal was forced to face down one of his biggest fans in a decider and initially struggled badly, falling two breaks down, with Korda serving for the match at 5-2.

This time the nerves did get to Korda, who lost four games in a row before stopping the rot to reach a tie-break.

There, Korda did briefly hold a mini-break lead, but that was only as part of a sequence of five consecutive mini-breaks that took the match away from him, Nadal prevailing 6-2 1-6 7-6 (7-3).

"I feel very, very lucky today to be through, honestly," Nadal said afterwards.

Korda could at least enjoy his consolation prize: compliments from Nadal, who had won their only prior meeting en route to his 2020 French Open title.

"Sebastian was playing some fantastic tennis and I'm sorry for him," Nadal said. "He had chances, but that's tennis.

"He's very young, he has an amazing future. I wish him all the best."

Up next for Nadal is Dan Evans, whose compatriot Cameron Norrie – the defending Indian Wells champion – also advanced with a straight-sets win over Pedro Martinez.

Related items

  • Novak Djokovic suffers first defeat to Casper Ruud at Monte-Carlo Masters Novak Djokovic suffers first defeat to Casper Ruud at Monte-Carlo Masters

    World number one Novak Djokovic suffered a first defeat to Casper Ruud as he was beaten in the semi-finals of the Monte-Carlo Masters.

    Norwegian Ruud delivered the biggest win of his career with a 6-4 1-6 6-4 victory to reach his second ATP Masters 1000 final.

    Ruud had never won a set off Djokovic in their past five meetings, but found his form against the tournament’s top seed to battle through to the final, where he will face Stefanos Tsitsipas.

    In a rematch of last year’s French Open final between the pair, Djokovic – who had appeared to struggle physically during his quarter-final win over Alex De Minaur – failed to find his usual high levels.

    Ruud, though, rose to the occasion on Court Rainier III to hold off a fightback from the Serbian in the final set, with Djokovic recovering from 4-1 down to level.

    The 25-year-old rallied to claim a third match point after Djokovic double faulted, completing a hard-fought victory in two hours and 17 minutes.

    Djokovic, meanwhile, sees his hunt for a first tournament win of 2024 continue.

    “I am super happy. This is a day I will remember for a long time,” Ruud told the ATP Tour website.

    “Beating a world number one is something I have never done and beating Novak is something I have never done.

    “I am very, very happy. I am a little bit in a state of shock right now.”

    Earlier, Tsitsipas had battled past second seed Jannik Sinner 6-4 3-6 6-4 and now has his eyes set on a third title in the Principality.

    “It was tennis at its highest level that I have been able to play,” said the Greek, who lifted back-to-back Monte-Carlo Masters titles in 2021 and 2022.

    “Jannik was an extremely-difficult opponent and it can be seen throughout the year so far.

    “He has been very consistent and I could see that throughout today with his game.

    “He is one of the toughest opponents I have faced so far and to find ways when there weren’t that many, I am proud of that.”

  • Emma Raducanu seals stunning GB win over France in Billie Jean King Cup Emma Raducanu seals stunning GB win over France in Billie Jean King Cup

    Emma Raducanu produced another dazzling comeback win to help Great Britain qualify for the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in stunning fashion with a 3-1 win over France.

    Anne Keothavong’s team were big underdogs ahead of the qualifier on clay in Le Portel and had lost to the same opponents in Coventry last year, but entered day two level at 1-1 after Raducanu’s impressive three-set victory over Caroline Garcia on Friday.

    Katie Boulter put her day one disappointment behind her to produce an excellent 7-5 6-0 win over world number 44 Clara Burel for a career-best victory on clay.

    It opened the door for former US Open champion Raducanu to send Britain through to the Finals later this year in Seville, but she was pushed all the way by Diane Parry in a pulsating contest that lasted two hours and 52 minutes.

    Parry won the first set but Raducanu, back in the team for the first time in two years following an injury-hit 2023, fought back to clinch a tremendous 4-6 6-1 7-6 (1) victory that not only sends her country through to the November Finals, but serves notice to her rivals ahead of the clay-court season.

    “To be able to put two matches like that back-to-back, three sets and on clay against really tough opponents, it’s just a testament to the work we’ve been doing,” Raducanu told the BBC.

    “I knew it would pay off eventually, so I’m very pleased that this weekend it was able to show.

    “On Thursday before the tie, we said how tough this would be but honestly I had a good feeling about the confidence of our team.

    “We have a very strong team and I am really pleased to have been able to score two points, but it helped so much having Boults this morning lead us to go 2-1 up.

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Billie Jean King Cup (@billiejeankingcup)

    “And obviously everyone on the bench and the support staff, they’ve been working around the clock to keep us fit and get us back on court because we finished pretty late last night.

    “So, it’s a massive shout out. It’s not just me and Boults, it was everyone.”

  • Emma Raducanu claims superb comeback win as Britain draw level with France Emma Raducanu claims superb comeback win as Britain draw level with France

    Emma Raducanu produced a brilliant comeback to stun France’s Caroline Garcia and draw Great Britain level at 1-1 in the Billie Jean King Cup qualifier in Le Portel.

    Britain were staring at a 2-0 deficit and almost certain defeat when Raducanu trailed in-form world number 23 Garcia by a set and 2-0 after Katie Boulter had been thumped 6-2 6-0 by Diane Parry.

    But Raducanu, back in the team for the first time in two years after injury, showed once again what makes her a hugely special talent by fighting back to claim a 3-6 6-3 6-2 victory for her first top-30 win on clay.

    Speaking on the BBC, the former US Open champion said: “I was completely the underdog, especially going out here in her house, on clay. I definitely turned it around. I fought really hard, I dug in.

    “That was a really good test for myself because I hadn’t had those level matches very often. I’m very pleased with my performance and I’m very, very happy to bring this point home for the team and go into tomorrow 1-1.”

    The 21-year-old is inexperienced on clay but said again ahead of the tie that she feels it could be a good surface for her, and this was her best victory for more than a year.

    The power of Garcia, who recently defeated Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka at the Miami Open, helped her edge a high-quality opening set, and the 30-year-old looked in control when she broke serve again to start the second.

    But Raducanu, who beat Garcia in Indian Wells in 2022 before losing to her at Wimbledon, met fire with fire, dialling up the aggression on her forehand in particular and turned the momentum around with a run of five games in a row.

    She had to show her gritty side when Garcia threatened a comeback of her own but the Frenchwoman appeared on the verge of tears during the deciding set as Raducanu kept her foot on the gas.

    The Kent player, ranked 302, saw the funny side after she celebrated a game short of victory at 5-1, but she kept her head impressively and looked delighted when a final volley earned her the spoils.

    “It was quite embarrassing,” said Raducanu of her mistake. “All I was thinking was, ‘If I lose this right now, I’m going to look like a right muppet’. I’m very happy that I managed to pull it through.”

    Earlier, Boulter’s inexperience on clay showed as she lost 12 games in a row against fast-rising 21-year-old Parry.

    Boulter has had an exceptional season so far but this was only the 17th match of her career on clay and her first at tour level.

    The British number one, ranked 28, told reporters: “I have to get better on the clay. It’s such a learning experience and it’s a really good learning experience for me.

    “I know my base level is there and that I can play some really good stuff. Practice has been awesome. The scoreline was tough but I felt it was a lot closer than it seemed.”

    Both captains must decide whether to make changes for Saturday, with Boulter scheduled to take on Garcia first up before Raducanu faces Parry.

    Three wins are needed to clinch a place in November’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Seville, and France would be strong favourites if it came down to a deciding doubles.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.