Mannarino rallies against Korda to win 2023 Astana Open after coming close in 2020

04.10.2023    Views: 549

Ravi Ubha

Adrian Mannarino was up against it in the final of the Astana Open.

He trailed Sebastian Korda by a set and 3-1 in the pair’s first meeting.

Indeed given that Korda had only been broken three times all week on the indoor hard courts of the National Tennis Center, things looked bleak for the Frenchman.

But Mannarino rallied, then took control and claimed his fourth tour-level title courtesy of the 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory at the ATP 250.

«In the beginning of the match, I wasn’t feeling my best,» said Mannarino. «I was a little tight. And then when I was down in the second set, a break down, I started to think I should just try to enjoy the match a little bit because so far I’m just stressed and not even playing.

«So I started to try some tough shots and it worked out pretty well. I was a little bit lucky to come back in the second set and then in the third I was feeling better.»

Mannarino bagged his first Astana title after coming close in 2020, when John Millman downed the left-hander.

He lost another final last year in the capital of Kazakhstan — in doubles alongside friend Fabrice Martin.

«I lost two finals on this court so it’s good to finally get the win,» he said. «Already playing in the final was a big accomplishment for me but winning the title is even better, so I’m just happy and going to try to enjoy this moment.»

At the age of 35, Mannarino’s 37 wins are a personal best in a season.

Career firsts for Mannarino

He won two titles in a season for the first time and sits 23rd in the ATP live rankings, one spot away from a career-high achieved in 2018.

Korda fell short in his bid to win a second tour title, although his ranking is climbing, too, following a successful two weeks.

Prior to Astana, the 23-year-old reached the semifinals in Chengdu. His own ranking is set to climb to 26th, closer to his goal of finishing 2023 inside the top 20.

A wrist injury sustained in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open —after he held a match point against 2022 Astana winner Novak Djokovic in the Adelaide final — curtailed his progress.

He entered Tuesday off the back a three-tiebreak win over wildcard Hamad Medjedovic and Mannarino didn’t discount his younger rival feeling the effects of not only that match but of the last two weeks.

«Congrats to Sebastian,» said Mannarino during the trophy presentation. «He had some exhausting two weeks. He’s been paying a little bit (for those efforts) today.

«But he is playing amazing. I wish him the best for the rest of the year and many years to come.»

Both players acknowledged the enthusiastic crowd in Astana. 

«Considering it’s a Tuesday, I think it’s an even bigger thank you to all of you,» added tournament director Attila Richter.

Mannarino intends on returning to Astana for as long as he keeps playing. He praised the tournament more than once this week.

Korda also enjoyed his time in Astana — loving the local chocolate — and thanked the federation for giving him Challenger wildcards previously.

«You’ve always been very, very kind to me,» Korda said during his speech. «Always a great honor to be back in Kazakhstan. And especially in Astana to be here and playing in front of you guys. It’s been an incredible journey for me.

«Hopefully, we see you guys soon.»

Korda thumped 61 aces in four matches before the final. He tallied nine on Tuesday, his lowest figure of the week.

He was broken four times, although Mannarino failed to make inroads in a first set where Korda conceded only seven points on serve.

Mannarino’s backhand proved pivotal in breaking back for 2-3 in second, especially a return down the line for 0-40.

Korda saved two break points before Mannarino flattened his forehand to help secure the key break.

Then he broke again for 5-3 thanks to a crisp cross-court backhand.

He had all the momentum and even more so when breaking — at love — for 2-1 in the third.

Korda bravely saved two match points in lengthy rallies but not the third one.

Mannarino hunched over and shook his fist in delight.

Earlier in the doubles final, Americans Nathaniel Lammons and Jackson Withrow beat Mate Pavic and John Peers 7-6 (4), 7-6 (7). There were no breaks, although Lammons and Withrow saved a set point at 4-5 in the second.

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