Sebastian Korda shared his slightly strange “ultimate goal” in tennis after booking his spot in the semi-final of the Shanghai Masters. The 23-year-old needed six match points to defeat Ben Shelton in a thrilling three-setter on Thursday. He later explained his wish to outdo his own father, former world No 2 Petr Korda, by winning a very specific number of Grand Slam titles.
Korda reached his maiden Masters 1000 semi-final as he came from a set down to beat compatriot Shelton 6-7(10) 6-2 7-6(6). The world No 26 survived a scare as he led by 4-2 in the final set before Shelton came storming back and won the next three games in a row. The elder American then blew five match points at 6-1 in the final set tiebreak but managed to get the job done.
After the match, Korda briefly turned his focus to the Grand Slams. While many players often set their sights on winning one Major title or have a lofty goal of five or 10, the 23-year-old had a rather unusual number in mind, two Grand Slam trophies.
Korda is the son of 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda and explained that his motivation was to outdo his father. “Obviously, I would love to be better than my dad. My ultimate goal in tennis is to win two Grand Slams, one more than my dad,” the American said.
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As well as having a Grand Slam champion as a dad, Korda is part of an incredible sporting family. His mum, Regina Rajchrtova, was the world No 26 in tennis. And his sisters Nelly and Jessica are stars on the LPGA Tour. Discussing the success in his family, he explained: “I don’t think it creates any pressure. In the end, we’re all doing kind of what we love to do.
“Tennis is something that I just love doing. It doesn’t matter if it’s playing, watching, I watch tennis all day long, basically. I just really enjoy being here, really enjoy playing tennis. Same thing with my sisters, they love doing what they’re doing. I don’t think there’s any pressure with it.”
Now through to the semi-final in Shanghai, Korda also admitted that having a dad who was a tennis champion helped him to stay calm in the tough moments throughout his tight match against Shelton. “That’s probably one of the biggest things of having a father who played tennis was to kind of understand certain moments,” he said.
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“I think in those certain moments you got to stay really calm. You can have such a big lead like that and you could just completely panic or get super down on yourself and just get lost. I think that’s one of the biggest things both my parents really taught me is to, you know, one, is to always believe in yourself, no matter the situation, to just really go after it.
“Whatever happens, happens, you just got to believe in yourself, go after it, and just enjoy the moment. It’s still a super nervous moment, for sure, but in those moments you really do enjoy them, you just want to be on the victory side of things.”
Korda will now carry that advice into his match against Hubert Hurkacz on Saturday. The 23-year-old is bidding to reach his maiden final at Masters 1000 level while Hurkacz already has a Masters title under his belt from the 2021 Miami Open.
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