Having a parent that is successful in a sport is definitely not a guarantee of your own personal success. Many very prominent athletes such as Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, and Wayne Gretzky to name a few, have had children with lackluster athletic ability.
That’s in no way a value statement on their life, but rather a keen example as to why one must forge their own path through hard work and perseverance. But, what happens when both of your parents were talented athletes?
Well, the Korda Siblings, Jessica, Nelly, and Sebastian may just be the answer to that question. Born to the ’98 Australian Open Champion Petr Korda and WTA career-high No. 26 Regina Rajchrtova, the Korda kids certainly benefited from some athletic genes.
And, though the sisters, Jessica and Nelly, are taking the women’s golf world by storm, we’ll be looking at their younger brother Sebastian in this article. It was almost inevitable that these three siblings would be good at sports, but it’s Sebastian’s success despite the pressure of living up to his parent’s achievements in the same sport that makes him special.
Sebastian Korda was born in Bradenton, Florida, United States on July 5, 2000 to Petr and Regina Korda. Starting at the age of 3, Sebastian played competitive junior ice hockey and was very good at the sport.
But, at the age of 9, after going with his father to the 2009 US Open, Sebastian decided to quit ice hockey and take up tennis. And, as fate would have it, he would manage to win the Junior Australian Open in 2018, exactly twenty years after his father won the Grand Slam.
In the same year, Korda would make his ATP main draw debut at the 2018 New York Open, where he would lose in the first round to fellow American Frances Tiafoe in three sets.
Korda wouldn’t get his next main draw chance until 2020 at the Cincinnati Masters. After making it through the qualifying tournament, Korda would once again lose in the first round, this time in three sets to Emil Ruusuvuori.
Following his loss in Cincinnati, Korda would play in his first Grand Slam main draw, losing to Shapovalov in the first round in four sets. But, despite his disappointing finishes in his first few main draw appearances, Korda would finally see a breakthrough at the 2020 French Open.
After making it through qualifying by defeating Aslan Karatsev — who would breakout in 2021 — Korda would win his first-round match against Andreas Seppi in four sets.
In the next two rounds of the tournament, Korda would continue to dazzle, defeating John Isner and Pedro Martinez to set up a match against his childhood idol, Rafael Nadal.
Although he would lose the match, Korda would feel like a winner after the match since he got to share the court with his hero and get his autograph.
“Ever since I was a kid, I mean I was in love with him and everything about him,” said Korda. “I would watch every single match. Doesn’t matter who he was playing or what tournament he was playing, he was the guy for me.”
“It was definitely the best moment of my life,” he said of the match. “Yeah, it was super awesome.”
Korda has managed to build off of his impressive performance at the 2020 French Open to start off the 2021 season well.
In his first tournament of the 2021 season, the Delray Beach Open, Korda would defeat Soonwoo Kwon, Tommy Paul, John Isner, and Cameron Norrie before losing to Hubert Hurkacz in the finals. His only three set matches would come against Americans Paul and Isner.
In Montpellier, he would defeat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets but would lose in the next round. He would do the same in Acapulco, defeating Marin Cilic.
At the Miami Masters, one of the biggest pro tennis tournaments of the year, Korda would defeat Radu Albot, Fabio Fognini, Aslan Karatsev, and Diego Schwartzman before losing to Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals. Two of those matches would be three sets, with his match against World No. 9 Schwartzman and World No. 17 Fognini going the distance.
Now that we’ve gotten to know Sebastian Korda and his recent results better, let’s move on to the meat of the article. Below are the three reasons I believe Sebastian Korda is one of the most promising next-gen players.
If I asked you to list the traits of a champion, what would you write? You’d probably write things like athleticism, a good work ethic, physical traits like height, and a fighting spirit that you can’t teach.
Well, if you asked me, I would have a hard time not photocopying Sebastian Korda.
At 6’5, Korda has the athleticism of a much smaller player while also maintaining the booming serves and massive groundstrokes that would be expected of someone his size.
In addition to these physical traits, Korda not only knows what it takes to be a champion because of his father, but he also has developed a very good work ethic.
On top of both of these things, Korda has a unique quality that is impossible to teach players. He always wants to face the best competition and refuses to back down to more experienced opponents.
In an article by the ATP Tour Staff, Korda would say, “I kind of feel comfortable playing against these bigger guys.”
The cherry on top of everything mentioned above is that he is very strong physically, which is a trait that is almost required of champions nowadays.
In an article by Richard Evans, Ivan Lendl was quoted saying, “I hit some balls with him a couple of years ago over at the IMG Academy in Bradenton and saw plenty of promise.” “More so now because, having watched him these past few days in Paris, he has overcome a couple of weaknesses I had noticed. He is obviously much stronger, which does not surprise me as he has been working with Radek Stepanek’s physio Marek Vseticek, who is as good as Jez Green [Alexander Zverev’s trainer] in that department.”
In addition to these comments about his improved game and strength, Lendl would go on to say, “It’s about taking opportunities. Sebastian has done that.”
Having all of the traits of a champion and receiving praise from a tennis legend is great, but it doesn’t stop there with Korda.
Although Felix Auger-Aliassime, who is virtually the same age as Korda, recently added Toni Nadal to his team, Sebastian Korda still has one of the strongest supporting casts out of all of the next-gen players.
First, the coaching he receives on a regular basis and during “special sessions” is superb. His coach, his father Petr, is obviously a very talented tennis player and has a knack for coaching.
Petr and Sebastian seem to be one of the very few father-son coaching and athlete duos who can maintain a healthy relationship off the court while succeeding on the court. Thus, the chemistry is there due to their relationship, and unlike several other rising stars, Korda hasn’t had to coach hop and has had a consistent mentor in his life.
But, in addition to his father, Korda has received coaching from 8-time Grand Slam Champion Andre Agassi, 22-time Grand Slam Champion Steffi Graf, and 8-time Grand Slam Champion Ivan Lendl among others.
As mentioned above, his physio is Marek Vseticek, who has worked with Karolina Pliskova, Tomas Berdych, and Radek Stepanek just to name a few. He is one of the best physios in the business and has already improved Korda’s strength tremendously.
The strength of this supporting cast combined with the support of his family, who are all professional athletes, puts him in the perfect position to succeed on the highest levels.
It takes all of the small things to succeed at the highest level, and everything points towards the fact that Korda has all of those things.
Still, the third and final reason Korda is up next is the cherry on top of all of these good things.
Dominic Thiem is a generational talent. But, unfortunate timing has caused much of his career to be wasted in the shadows of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic.
Luckily for Korda, with Nadal and Federer both showing signs of decline and Djokovic soon to follow, he will be hitting his stride at the perfect moment. Although it isn’t true for every tennis player, most peak around the ages of 24-28.
This peak time is about five years away for Korda, and in five years Federer will be 44, Nadal, 39, and Djokovic 38, well past their primes.
Still, Korda will have to face players of the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev in their primes, but they are nowhere near the insurmountable giants that the Big 3 were during their prime.
As for his fellow next-gen players, Korda’s main stumbling blocks in the years to come will be Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jannik Sinner.
Each of these players have proven that they too can perform in bigger tournaments, but Korda seems to have the long-term advantage over both.
The amount of championship matches that Auger-Aliassime has made thus far in his career, 7, is impressive. But, Auger-Aliassime has failed to win any of these titles and has also had trouble going deep in Grand Slam draws.
Korda hasn’t had the chance yet to play a lot of main draw events, but in the small sample size that we’ve gotten so far, he doesn’t seem to be lacking in poise. If, and likely when, these two meet in championships down the road, I think that Korda’s mental toughness will topple Auger-Aliassime.
As for Sinner, like Korda, he really does seem to be everything you would want in a tennis player. Sinner could very well prove to be a challenge for Korda for years to come. But, I think that’s a good thing.
There was McEnroe and Connors, Sampras and Agassi, Federer and Nadal, why not Korda and Sinner?
Whether or not Sebastian Korda will turn out to be the next multiple Grand Slam Champion is yet to be seen. Regardless, if you haven’t watched this dark-horse next-gen play yet, clear your schedule and grab some popcorn.
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