Korda plays catch-up in an adorable family, with a little help from Agassi

Sebastian Korda says he’s the “worst athlete” in his high-achieving athletic family, but with a little help from tennis legend Andre Agassi, the up-and-coming American is working hard to change the dynamic.

The 22-year-old stunned two-time finalist and seventh seed Daniil Medvedev at the Australian Open on Friday, weeks after he pushed Novak Djokovic to the limits in the Adelaide International final.

Known as Sebi, his auteur performances reflect what’s been clear for some time – he’s on the rise, and he’s got a lot to live up to in the Korda family.

His father, Peter, is the former world number two and won the Australian Open in 1998, while his mother, Regina Rajchertova, was a Czech player who rose to 26 in the world.

His older sisters are just as impressive with eight-time LPGA Tour winner Nelly, current world number two and Olympic champion.

Jessica also chose golf over tennis and has also excelled, winning six titles so far.

“I don’t know what I’d get (after he won), but my mom’s high was 26, my dad was 2, my sister Nelly was 1, my older sister Jessica was 6,” Korda said. , currently ranked 31st.

“So I’m definitely the worst athlete in the family by far!”

Nelly, at least, didn’t believe it for a minute, telling Golf Channel broadcasts at the Tournament of Champions in Florida on Friday: “Honestly, it’s the best.

“His hand-eye coordination is incredible. I swung him—I’m actually jealous of his swing. He’s crazy. He’s left-handed. He’s a natural adept, but he plays golf.”

“He played hockey left. I mean, he grew up playing hockey. He was good at that, too. He skates really nice, plays golf really well, plays tennis beautifully.”

Djokovic signaled his talents in Adelaide this month after fending off a championship point to beat him in the final, with the 92-times champion saying he played “good-looking tennis”.

Medvedev, who is set to drop to 12th in the rankings after his defeat, is another fan, comparing his game to the Serbian star.

And the Russian said: “The most difficult thing is that he hits the ball hard. He is probably one of the strongest hitters.”

“His game is a bit different from everyone else’s because he’s very aggressive and gets the ball very early. Maybe a little bit like Novak.”

Korda, the junior champion at Melbourne Park, will meet Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, the tenth seed, next Sunday for a place in the quarter-finals.

– someone spacial –

His steady rise through the world rankings and run to the fourth round can be attributed in part to eight-time Grand Slam winner Agassi, who acted as a mentor.

“He’s one of the most special people in my life,” said Korda, the Las Vegas-based superstar who stayed up until 5 a.m. to watch him defeat Medvedev.

“We started talking during Covid in 2020. It was one of the biggest parts of my rise. Just generally as a tennis player, as a human being.

“We spend a lot of time together. Yeah, it’s very special to me.”

Korda also credits a positive new mentality to his excellent start to the season, getting it from his mother and new coaches Martin Stepanek and Radek Stepanek, both former players.

“That’s one of the biggest things,” he said, “kind of just having a new mantra ‘Positive energy is more positive than negative energy. ‘” Once you get a hold of something negative, it can take you in the opposite direction.”

“My mom is always really great at having a good attitude. I just try to take it one step further, just try to do it all the time.

“I especially brought in two new coaches, Martin Stepanek and Radek Stepanek, they’re really important to that. So I think he’s playing a big part in my game now. He’s doing really well.”

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