MELBOURNE, Australia — Sebastian Korda spent his first week of a long-awaited journey to Australia removed from the summer time sunshine he imagined: After testing optimistic for the coronavirus upon touchdown within the nation, Korda was quarantined in a lodge room in Adelaide, hitting a ball against the headboard of his bed.
Although one unlucky carom off the ceiling left Korda doubled over in ache, the weeklong confinement wouldn’t include his rising expertise: In his first match of the 12 months, Korda defeated Twelfth-seeded Cameron Norrie of Britain, 6-3, 6-0, 6-4, in a first-round match on the Australian Open.
“It wasn’t simple,” Korda mentioned after his win. “I didn’t get quite a lot of preparation, didn’t get any matches below my belt.”
It was the primary main-draw match right here for Korda, 21, who won the Australian Open boys’ title four years ago. Korda skipped the Open final 12 months, opting to play a small match in France, which he gained to interrupt into the highest 100 for the primary time.
Although he had stayed away since his junior triumph, Korda feels an in depth connection to Australia: His father, Petr, gained his lone Grand Slam title right here in 1998, and each of his sisters have gained the Girls’s Australian Open golf match, with Jessica successful in 2012 and Nelly, at the moment the top-ranked participant within the L.P.G.A., successful in 2019.
“A lot of success right here in Australia,” Sebastian Korda mentioned. “I’m all the time tremendous joyful to be right here. The followers are unbelievable, the match’s unbelievable, and, yeah, I’m simply actually snug right here. They all the time make me really feel like residence right here.”
Norrie grew up nearer to Melbourne, in New Zealand, however couldn’t discover any consolation towards Korda and his dominant serve. Korda gained 77 % of factors on his first serve, and saved all three break factors he confronted within the match.
Norrie, who surged into the highest 20 with a shock title on the Indian Wells Masters occasion final October, mentioned Monday’s loss had been “possibly my worst match within the final eight months” however known as Korda “a terrific participant” and mentioned the match “could have even been troublesome if I used to be enjoying nice nonetheless.”
“He can come ahead — very skillful across the web,” Norrie added. “He served nicely in huge factors right this moment, and was too good for me.”
Korda, ranked forty third, is a part of a tightly packed peloton that’s main American males’s tennis because it chases the game’s greatest. Although no American man is ranked contained in the ATP high 20, there are 5 Individuals forward of Korda, led by Twenty second-ranked Taylor Fritz.
“I feel we’re all pushing one another,” Korda mentioned. “There’s all the time an American pushing, going additional in tournaments, so it’s inspiring for all of us — it’s like slightly competitors between us.”
Those within the entrance of the pack see Korda gaining quick.
“So clear,” Forty first-ranked Tommy Paul, who gained in straight units on Monday over Mikhail Kukushkin, mentioned of Korda. “Enjoyable to observe.”
No. 29 Reilly Opelka, an outspoken cheerleader for his fellow American gamers, mentioned the 6-foot-5 Korda “has positively bought the physique to be nice.”
“He’s bought the Tsitsipas-Medvedev-Zverev construct; that’s type of the brand new, fashionable factor,” Opelka mentioned, citing three top-five gamers. “He strikes nicely. Nice backhand.”
Opelka mentioned he was particularly impressed by Korda’s greatest outcomes having come at Grand Slam occasions, together with a run to the fourth spherical of the 2020 French Open and final 12 months’s Wimbledon. “You’ll be able to faux it for a set and a half if a man is off,” Opelka mentioned. “You’ll be able to’t conceal it for 5 units.”
Although Opelka mentioned he was most “intrigued” by the unconventional sport of the 21-year-old Californian Jenson Brooksby, he known as Korda “tremendous legit,” and the “most secure name of the younger guys” to guide the American pack to resurgent heights.