Tennis

Sebastian Korda (wrist) withdraws, sends Karen Khachanov to Australian semi-finals

MELBOURNE, Australia – For a full set, Karen Khachanov’s Australian Open quarter-final against Sebastian Korda on Tuesday was as close as it gets. Right until, that is, Khachanov unleashed a down-the-line backhand to close out a 17-shot tie and steal a tiebreaker.

Khachanov raised his right index finger to his ear and asked the Rod Laver Arena crowd to let him hear some support, then waved his finger in a “No. 1!” gesture. Not long after that, early in the second set, came Korda. , a 22-year-old American whose father Petr was the 1998 champion in Australia, felt pain in his right wrist when he mishit a forehand service return. He called for a trainer to investigate and tape it.

And early in the third it was over as Korda stopped playing while trailing 7-6 (5), 6-3, 3-0, allowing Khachanov to reach his first semi-final at Melbourne Park – and his second consecutive trip to the last four of a Grand Slam tournament, following his run at the US Open last September.

Soon, Khachanov was doing a winner’s interview on the court, asking the crowd to applaud his injured opponent, while Korda walked toward the locker room with a red equipment bag over his left shoulder and a sour look on his face.

“I’ve kind of reinvented myself, I’d say. I’ve always believed in myself, but there’s always ups and downs,” said Khachanov, a 26-year-old Russian seeded No. 18 in Australia. “And sometimes when you have this amazing result, it just shows you what you’re capable of and you start to believe more and more.”

Korda’s wrist first bothered him during a tune-up tournament in Adelaide earlier this month, but he said it appeared to be fine over the past two weeks until Tuesday.

“I kind of felt the place that I felt before,” Korda said. “Some forehands, I couldn’t even hold the racket. Volleying was almost impossible for me. So it was kind of tough.”

Khachanov will face either No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece or unseeded Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic for a place in the men’s final. Tsitsipas and Lehecka were scheduled to play their quarter-final on Tuesday evening.

Korda, seeded No. 29, upset 2021 US Open champion and two-time Australian Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev in the third round, then got past No. 10 Hubert Hurkacz in five sets in the fourth round.

The younger Korda was one of three 20-something American men to reach the quarterfinals this time, the most for the country at the Australian Open since 2000. The other two, Ben Shelton and Tommy Paul, will meet for a place in the semifinals on Wednesday.

None of the three had ever been in the last eight at a major tournament.

“There’s a lot of positives. I mean, way more positives than even negatives. Today was tough, but hopefully it’s nothing serious and I can take care of it so I don’t have it in the future,” Korda said . referring to his wrist. “I will go forward with my head held high and continue to work.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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