Korda edges big-serving duel to make Astana Open final where Mannarino awaits

03.10.2023    Views: 534
Source: KTF press-service

Ravi Ubha

It’s not often a player goes deep into a tournament, doesn’t get broken and leaves without silverware. 

Such is the fate of Hamad Medjedovic at the Astana Open.

But Sebastian Korda has a potent serve, too, and didn’t get broken himself in Monday’s 6-7 (8), 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3) semifinal thriller over the 20-year-old wildcard.

It was the second three-tiebreak contest of the week on the indoor hard courts at the National Tennis Center after Marcos Giron edged Stan Wawrinka — also from a set down.

Korda thumped 18 aces, Medjedovic 16 and they saved a combined five break points.

«We both played an incredible match. He’s a really good player,» said Korda, emphasizing ‘really.’ «He’s going to be even better. It was very tricky but very happy with the win.»

The fifth-seed roared «come on» and shook his first when the two-hour, 49-minute nailbiter concluded.

The Floridian — whose sisters Nelly and Jessica are world-class golfers — made the final in Astana after reaching the semifinals last week in Chengdu.

The world No. 28 is thus approaching his goal of finishing the season inside the top 20.

A win tomorrow over 2020 finalist Adrian Mannarino would see Korda sit just outside it with about six weeks of the campaign remaining.

He might have achieved his target already if not for a wrist injury suffered in January.

«A lot of emotions for sure,» said Korda, who held a match point on 2022 Astana champion Novak Djokovic in January’s Adelaide final. «I’ve had a long year with my wrist injury and to be back in a final, it’s incredible. I’m really happy and I have my whole team to thank.»

One of Medjedovic’s goals this season is to break the top 100 and victory over Korda would have done the job for the current No. 120.

But as Korda suggested, the Serb’s ranking figures to keep rising.

Korda appeared the fresher of the two in the final set, with Medjedovic needing an off-court medical timeout for a leg issue at 4-5. 

A stray forehand in the decisive tiebreak to give Korda a 3-1 lead prompted Medjedovic to take his frustration out on his racket. He received a second warning and duly was docked a point for 1-4.

Korda proved steady, just like in the second tiebreak.

In the first one, Medjedovic saved two set points, helped at 5-6 by a bold second serve. When Korda later netted a forehand to end the set, Medjedovic pointed to his ear and urged fans to make noise. They obliged.

Korda, however, had the last say.

Mannarino into 14th final

The second semifinal proved more straight forward.

Mannarino wasn’t pleased with his performance in his quarterfinal victory against Jurij Rodionov — having to save 11 set points in the second set — but was happier Monday after beating Sebastian Ofner 6-4, 6-2.

The left-hander lacks the power of Korda yet is adept at handling pace and manoeuvring the ball all around the court.

He is appearing in an impressive 14th tour final.

The left-hander broke for 4-2, only to be broken back immediately.

Thereafter, Mannarino said he lifted his level and that Ofner’s own level waned.

Ofner — set to crack the top 50 for the first time despite the loss — had reached his first tour semifinal in six years after a comeback two-and-a-half hour win over good friend and Grand Slam winner Dominic Thiem.

«He broke me in the first set. From that point I started to be really consistent,» said Mannarino. «We had some long rallies. I was just solid and he was maybe a little tired from his match of yesterday. He dropped a little bit physically in the second set.»

The doubles final is also set.

Second-seeds Nathaniel Lammons and Jackson Withrow of the US take on Croatia’s Mate Pavic and Australia’s John Peers, the fourth seeds.

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