Sebastian Korda scored the biggest win of his career on Sunday as he battled past 10th-seeded Hubert Hurkacz in five thrilling sets to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.
The 29th seed advanced to the last eight for the first time at a Grand Slam with a back-and-forth 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (10-7) victory against the Polish star. Korda will face Karen Khachanov for a spot in the semifinals.
“Great. I couldn’t have done it without you. You got me through it,” Korda told the crowd. “I didn’t feel too much energy going into fourth and fifth, but you guys really picked me up and without you I don’t think it would have been possible today, so thank you!”
The American claimed a third-round surprise as he ousted back-to-back Australian Open finalist Daniil Medvedev in an almost flawless straight-sets show. He backed up that triumph with a gritty performance at the Rod Laver Arena against the 2021 Wimbledon semifinalist.
“It was hard, but I’m really happy with the way I just lay there and kept going through it,” he said.
Radek Stepanek” />
Sebastian Korda’s team, including coach Radek Stepanek, celebrates his victory. Photo credit: Peter Staples/TBEN
Korda is only the third American to reach the quarterfinals at the first Grand Slam of the season since Andy Roddick last achieved the feat in 2010. Tennys Sandgren (twice) and Frances Tiafoe have since also reached the last eight.
After four mostly easy sets, the decider was full of drama, with a first place finish in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open on the line for both men. The tension was evident in Korda’s player box where Radek Stepanek, who is Korda’s coach and like an older brother to him, was out of his chair after almost every point in the fifth set. The Czech constantly encouraged his attack and at points in the game he also tried to get the fans involved.
Hurkacz earned two break points at 5-5. If the Pole had converted, he would have served for his place in the quarter-finals. But Korda played with nerves of steel to avoid trouble.
In the decisive tiebreak there were many swings of momentum. Korda won six straight points on one stretch to see his lead slip away. But he never panicked and capped off his win with a perfect backhand that shot down the line.
“[I] had a little superstition with the towel. The towel got me through,” Korda said, making the crowd laugh. “Every time I went to the towel, I won the point, so I just kept going for it.”
Korda is known for his aggressive play, but interestingly, Hurkacz won rallies from 0-4 shots by a 93-84 margin. In points over four shots, the American claimed a 62-51 lead. Both gentlemen broke serve three times.
Korda will next look for his third consecutive ATP Head2Head win against Khachanov (Korda leads series 2-1). Their most memorable clash came at Wimbledon in 2021, when Khachanov triumphed 10-8 in the fifth set of a 19-service clash.