Khachanov to the Australian Open semi-final after giving up Korda

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Karen Khachanov reached his second consecutive Grand Slam semifinal on Tuesday as Sebastian Korda pulled out of the Australian Open injured.

Korda required treatment for a wrist injury in the second set of their quarterfinal before retiring with a 7-6 (7/5), 6-3, 3-0 deficit to Russia’s 18th seed at Rod Laver Arena.

Khachanov’s reward is a clash with either Greece’s third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas or unseeded Czech Jiri Lehecka, playing later, for a spot in Sunday’s final.

The win equals the 26-year-old’s best performance at a major after his US Open semifinal loss to Norwegian Casper Ruud last September.

The Olympic silver medalist, who has won four Tour titles, came into the game with much more experience at this stage of a Grand Slam than Korda, who reached the last eight in all four majors.

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In contrast, 22-year-old Korda was in his first quarterfinal.

Khachanov also had it much easier in the fourth round, defeating Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in straight sets, while Korda struggled through a five-set thriller against Hubert Hurkacz.

“I think it was very competitive to a certain extent, a very good fight,” said Khachanov.

“He beat my friend Daniil (Medvedev) in three sets and beat Hurkacz in five sets, so you know he’s playing great. So let’s applaud him.”

“I feel good to be honest and I’m really happy with the way I’m racing,” he added. “I’m looking forward to the semi-finals here in Australia for the first time.”

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Khachanov, who reached a career-high eighth in 2019, opened with a service to love, then made an easy break to go 2-0 clear with Korda’s early nerves.

The American finally made it 3-1 when Khachanov skinned a cross-court forehand wide.

But with the Russian shooting down aces and winning over 90 per cent on his first serve, chances to break back were few and far between.

However, a wayward backhand when Khachanov was serving for the set gave Korda his first break point opportunity and he grabbed it with both hands.

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It went to a tiebreak, where Khachanov kept his nerve and sealed it on his third set point with a blistering backhand down the line.

Korda needed treatment on his right hand, wrist at 3-2 in the second set. He came back with it tied up but was immediately broken.

The Russian consolidated and as Korda struggled, bending his wrist between points, broke again to take a two-set lead.

Korda left the field at the substitution, clearly in trouble. He continued, but lost the first 10 points of the third set before retiring.

mp/pst

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