Rafael Nadal Sees Off Qualifier Sebastian Korda

Twelve-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal raced into the quarter-finals with a straight-set victory over American qualifier Sebastian Korda.

Korda said in the build-up that Nadal was his “idol” but the 20-year-old struggled to match the clay-court specialist on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Spanish second seed Nadal, chasing a fourth successive title at Roland Garros, took the match 6-1 6-1 6-2.

He will face Jannik Sinner next after the Italian beat Alexander Zverev.

The 19-year-old, ranked 75 in the world, put in a superb performance to beat the US Open finalist 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-3.

“I’m in the quarter-finals without losing a set and having very positive scores. So I can’t complain at all,” said 34-year-old Nadal.

“I am quite happy about the way that I am playing, and the practices I am feeling every time a little bit better and better.”

  • Debutant Sinner emulates Nadal

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Jannik Sinner is the Next Gen ATP champion

Both Sinner and Zverev lost five-set matches at the US Open from two sets up – Sinner in the first round against Karen Khachanov, while Zverev did so in agonising fashion in the final against Dominic Thiem.

The 19-year-old took advantage of a passive Zverev, hitting 39 winners to the sixth seed’s 20.

Nerves briefly showed in the third set when Sinner double-faulted to hand Zverev a crucial break, but he regrouped for the fourth.

He consolidated an early break and wrong-footed Zverev with some smart net play to close out victory in just over three hours.

Sinner is the first player since Nadal in 2005 to reach the French Open quarter-finals in his main draw debut.

  • Korda gets lesson from hero Nadal

Korda, whose dad Petr was the 1998 Australian Open champion and reached the final in Paris in 1992, was the youngest American man to reach this stage at Roland Garros since 19-year-old Michael Chang in 1991.

He grew up watching video tapes of the Spaniard and even named his cat after the 19-time Grand Slam champion.

It promised to be the perfect start for the French Open debutant, who twice had break points in a nine-minute opening game.

But the world number 213 failed to convert as a ruthless Nadal held and then won the following four games on his way to clinching the opening set in 40 minutes.

He eased to the second set in blustery conditions in Paris, before Korda broke early in the third with a combination of fierce backhands.

But Nadal, who is yet to drop a set this tournament, hit back by taking the final six games to win in one hour and 55 minutes.

Korda said he loved the whole experience of playing Nadal, despite his heavy defeat.

“He almost hit an around-the-net forehand and I was kind of begging for it to go in because that would have been the coolest thing ever,” he said. “And then he hit a running forehand winner on me at the lines. I just said to myself, ‘This is awesome’.

“I don’t know if anyone’s ever asked him for an autograph after a match, but that was definitely the coolest moment of my life and one I’ll never forget for sure.”

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