09 Jan Upsets Abound But Second Seed Isner Stays Strong
By STEVE DORSEY
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – Saturday was a day of second-round upsets at the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com, and Sebastian Korda didn’t want to be locked out of the party.
Korda registered the third consecutive upset of day when the 20-year-old Floridian defeated world No. 52 and No. 5 seed fellow American Tommy Paul 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 in the evening session’s first match to reach his first ATP Tour-level quarterfinal. He joined Christian Harrison and Gianluca Mager as underdogs to oust a seeded player here on Saturday. (Read More)
Korda, who arrived in Delray Beach ranked No. 119 In the world, said his goal this year is to crack the top 100, and he’s certainly off to a good start here at the season-opening tournament on the ATP Tour. He finished 2020 by winning seven of his last eight matches on the Challenger circuit after turning in an impressive performance at last year’s French Open where he reached the round of 16 before losing to No. 2 Rafael Nadal.
“I always knew I had the game. It was just a few things here and there, and I think at the French Open you could really see it,” Korda said.
Korda simply played more consistent tennis than Paul on this night. He converted 5-of-6 break points, while Paul converted only 2-of-11 break points.
“The consistency and constantly applying pressure was super big for me, especially in the second and third sets, and I started serving a lot better,” Korda said of his performance.
Korda’s run at last year’s French Open included a win against top-ranked American John Isner, who Korda will next face on Monday in the quarterfinals.
“I definitely want to be in the top 100 by the end of the year, but the big thing for me is just getting comfortable playing these big guys, these big tournaments, and just having my game progress,” Korda said. “For me, it’s just one day at a time right now. . . . Just being around these players again and seeing that I have the level to play these guys is inspiring for me, and all the hard work that I did in the offseason really paid off.”
Isner, the No. 2 seed here this week, was the only one of the four seeded players in action Saturday to record a win. The 6-foot-10, 35-year-old American advanced with a 6-4, 7-6(4) victory over Brazilian Thiago Monteiro in the nightcap match on the Stadium Court. He smashed 22 aces against Monteiro.
“I’ve always said there’s one thing I can do well in this world, and that’s serve a tennis ball, and I think I did that today,” said Isner, whose last match before Saturday was his loss to Korda in September’s French Open. “Certainly there’s some things I can I guess clean up, but that’s to be expected because I haven’t played in a very, very long time”
Isner, who is ranked No. 25 in the world and has 15 career ATP Tour titles on his resume, has been a semifinalist in Delray Beach four times but has failed to reach the finals each time. He’ll now have a chance to reach his fifth semifinal but first must get past Korda on Monday.