MELBOURNE, Australia — For a full set, Karen Khachanov’s Australian Open quarterfinal against Sebastian Korda on Tuesday was as close as it gets. Until, that is, Khachanov fired a backhand down the line to cover a 17-point run and steal a tiebreaker.
Khachanov raised his right index finger to his ear, telling the Rod Laver Arena crowd to let him hear some support, then waved that finger in a “No. 1!” gesture. Shortly after, at the start of the second set, Korda, a 22-year-old American whose father Petr was Australian champion in 1998, felt pain in his right wrist when he mishit a back serve return. right. He called a trainer to examine it and register it.
And at the start of the third, it was over, as Korda stopped playing while leading 7-6(5), 6-3, 3-0, allowing Khachanov to reach his first semi-final in Melbourne Park – and his second consecutive trip to the last four at a Grand Slam tournament, following his run at the US Open last September.
Soon, Khachanov was doing a winner’s interview on the pitch, telling the spectators to applaud his injured opponent, as Korda headed for the locker room, a bag of red equipment over his left shoulder and a stark look on his face.
“I kind of reinvented myself, I would say. I always believed in myself, but there are always ups and downs,” said Khachanov, a 26-year-old Russian seeded No. 18 in Australia. . “And sometimes when you have this great result, it just shows you what you’re capable of and you start to believe more and more.”
Korda’s wrist first bothered him at a tune-up tournament in Adelaide earlier this month, but he said all seemed to be fine for the past two weeks until Tuesday.
“I kind of felt this place that I felt before,” Korda said. “Some forehands I couldn’t even hold the racquet. The volley was almost impossible for me. So it was a bit difficult.
Khachanov will face either Greece’s No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas or the unranked Czech Jiri Lehecka for a spot in the men’s final. Tsitsipas and Lehecka were due to play their quarter-finals on Tuesday evening.
Korda, who was seeded 29th, upset 2021 US Open champion and two-time Australian Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev in the third round, then edged past No.10 Hubert Hurkacz in five sets in the fourth round .
Young Korda was one of three American men in their twenties to advance to the quarter-finals this time around, the most for the country at the Australian Open since 2000. The other two, Ben Shelton and Tommy Paul meet for a spot in the semi-finals on Wednesday.
None of the three had ever been in the last eight of a major tournament.
“There are a lot of positives. I mean, a lot more positives than even negatives. Today was tough, but hopefully it’s nothing serious and I can m ‘take care of it so you don’t have it in the future,'” Korda said. referring to his wrist. “I’m going to walk with my head held high and keep working.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.