​​Sebastian Korda: The rising US tennis star who is the ‘worst athlete in the family’



Sebastian Korda may have knocked out some of the world’s best players ahead of his first Australian Open quarterfinal, but the 22-year-old still says he is the “worst athlete” in his family.

In truth, the young American has tougher competition than most, coming from a family full of champions in two different sports.

Both his parents are former tennis players. His father, Petr, won the Australian Open in 1998, while his mother, Regina Rajchrtova, achieved a career-high 26.

His sisters, Jessica and Nelly, are both professional golfers – and very good at it.

Jessica has won six LPGA events in her career Nelly won the Women’s PGA Championship in 2021.

Speaking after beating two-time finalist Daniil Medvedev in straight sets in the third round on Friday, Korda served up a slice of self-mockery.

“I don’t know how I will be ranked,” he said in his post-game interview on the court.

“But the peak of my mom’s career was 26, my dad was two, my sister Nelly was No. 1, my older sister Jessica was six, so I’m definitely the worst athlete in the family yet!”

Korda, who is currently number 31 in the world, is likely to move up the rankings after a brilliant run in Melbourne.

After beating two-time Australian Open finalist Medvedev on Friday, he followed it up with a hard-fought win over Pole Hubert Hurkacz to reach the quarterfinals for the first time in his career.

However, he needed five sets to get past Hurkacz, including a blood-curdling tiebreak in the final set in which he relied on superstition.

“The towel got me through,” he laughed. “Every time I went to the towel I won the point, so I just kept going for it. My new friend.”

Korda is part of a new generation of American tennis players who have made an impact on the sport’s biggest stages.

However, Korda’s run in Australia came to an unfortunate end on Tuesday after he was forced to withdraw from his quarter-final against Karen Khachanov with a wrist injury.

Korda trailed 7-6 6-3 3-0 when he had to retire.

Korda is a former junior champion at the Australian Open and won his first and only ATP title two years ago.

He also came one point away from defeating Novak Djokovic at the Adelaide International on January 8, demonstrating his ability to perform against the best.

“The American players have been pushing and helping each other to believe they can compete close to that level,” former player turned announcer John McEnroe said in a recent interview with Eurosport when discussing possible winners this year in Melbourne.

“If I had to choose one, I would probably choose Sebastian Korda; he is the youngest of that current top group of Americans and the one with the most benefit right now.

Korda's sisters, Nelly Korda and Jessica, are both professional golfers.

In addition to his talented family, Korda can also count on the support of mentor Andre Agassi.

The eight-time Grand Slam champion has been helping his young compatriot for the past two years, during which he has become one of the most exciting prospects on the tour.

Korda said Agassi stayed in the US all night to watch him play his games in Melbourne and is grateful for the support.

“He is one of the most special people in my life. We started talking during Covid in 2020. He has been one of the biggest parts of my rise,” Korda said, according to the ATP.

“Just in general, as a tennis player, as a person. We spend a lot of time together. Yes, he is very special to me.”

Korda will face Russian Karen Khachanov in the quarterfinals on Tuesday and his whole family will undoubtedly be watching.

However, his sister Nelly has no time for her brother’s modesty.

“It’s complete BS,” she told reporters Saturday at the LPGA’s Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions, when asked about her brother’s claims that he was the baddest in the family.

“Honestly, he’s the best. His hand-eye coordination is incredible. His swing – I’m actually jealous of his swing.

“It’s crazy. He’s left-handed. He’s a natural right-hander, but he plays golf left-handed. He played hockey lefty. I mean, he grew up playing hockey – he was pretty good at it too.

“He can skate very well, play golf well, play tennis beautifully.”

While it remains to be seen how he fares in Melbourne, Korda has what it takes to become the next big American star.

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