Local chocolate to his liking, Korda meets Mannarino in Astana Open final

03.10.2023    Views: 462
Source: KTF press-service

Ravi Ubha

Sticking with one particular routine this week ahead of Tuesday’s final at the Astana Open probably won’t be troublesome for Sebastian Korda — eating Kazakhstan chocolate.

The American has consumed «too much.»

«Good chocolate,» he said with a smile. «But it’s working so maybe I will have another one tonight.»

Korda contests his sixth tour-level final against Adrian Mannarino, who reached the finale in Astana in 2020.

The indoor conditions at the National Tennis Center have suited Korda’s powerful serve, with 61 aces to show for it.

Eighteen came in the semifinals against 20-year-old wildcard Hamad Medjedovic as part of a 6-7 (8), 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3) victory.

Neither player dropped serve and Korda has lost serve just three times all week.

Medjedovic — on the cusp of cracking the top 100 in the rankings after starting the year at No. 255 — exited Astana without surrendering his own serve once. 

Korda wondered if it was the first three-tiebreak match he played on the ATP Tour — and it was.

In Adelaide in January, he came close, defeated by Novak Djokovic, 6-7 (8), 7-6 (3), 6-4, after holding a match point.

January proved bittersweet for the 23-year-old. Korda proceeded to make the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, only to suffer a wrist injury that ruled him out for three months.

So making the final in Astana — after a semifinal at the Chengdu Open last week — left the world No. 28 feeling «pretty emotional.»

«It’s been a long, difficult year,» said Korda. «A lot of hard work for myself and for my team. A lot of patience has been needed.»

He has a fan in Mannarino.

«I always appreciate to (watch) him when he plays because he has such a talented and easy game,» said the left-hander, into a 14th tour final. «So I’m really looking forward to the match and hopefully I’m going to do well.»

The two have never played or even, said Mannarino, practiced together.

Mannarino’s tally of victories this season sits at a personal-best 36, a number one year higher than his age. Nearing the end of the campaign, the Frenchman is nonetheless feeling fit.

«Some players are powerful,» said Mannarino. «Me, I know I’m pretty fit and I’m able to run a lot so this is a part of me that should stay consistent the entire year, even if it’s October.»

No matter the outcome Tuesday, Mannarino plans on returning to Astana.

In his three appearances, he has reached two finals, made the quarterfinals and landed in a maiden tour-level doubles final.

And in another eventful moment in Astana, Mannarino saved 11 set points in the second set of his quarterfinal against Jurij Rodionov on Sunday.

«The organization is really nice,» he said. «We have good conditions to play. We’re staying in a really nice hotel. It helps a lot when you know you’re going to a tournament where you feel good. And the conditions outside of the court are really important sometimes to help you to feel good on court.

«This is definitely a tournament that I like coming back to and as long as I’m able to play, I think I’m going to be back in Astana for every edition.»

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