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Korda, Whose Cat Is Named “Rafa,” Gets Dream French Open Tennis Match With Nadal

By Ricky Dimon

David Goffin grew up with posters of Roger Federer all over his wall. At 20 years old, the Belgian got his first chance to play against Federer in the fourth round of the French Open.

Sebastian Korda grew up idolizing Rafael Nadal. Korda’s cat is named after the 12-time Roland Garros champion. At 20 years old, the American will get his first chance to play against Nadal in the fourth round of the French Open.

“I’m praying that he wins,” Korda said of the world No. 2 following his 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 third-round win over Pedro Martinez on Friday afternoon, but before Nadal took the court later in the day.

Sebastian Korda of the USA in action against Andreas Seppi of Italy during their men’s first round match during the French Open.

That’s right; with a spot in a Grand Slam quarterfinal on the line, Korda could go up against world No. 74 Stefano Travaglia. Or he could go up against one of the greatest players of all time. The former would give Korda a very good chance of reaching the quarters. The latter would mean an almost certain defeat.

But because the latter is Nadal, specifically, it was an easy choice.

“He’s my biggest idol,” said Korda, the son of former Australian Open champion Petr Korda. “The way that he is, everything that he does is perfect. Ever since I was kid I was just over the moon watching him play…. He’s one of the reasons I play tennis. Just watching him play, unbelievable competitor; from him I have the never-give-up mentality. Whenever I’m on court, I try to be like him…. I named my cat ‘Rafa’ after him. That explains a lot, and how much I love him.”

“That means that I have been on the TV for such a long time; that’s the main thing,” Nadal joked when told of Korda’s comments following his 6-1, 6-4, 6-0 rout of Travaglia. “Another negative thing that means is that I am 34.

“But, yeah, happy to hear that…. I think he has an amazing future – hopefully not yet.”

In Goffin’s case, he also had an amazing future–but not before losing to Federer in that 2011 match in an entertaining four-setter.

If Korda even comes close to taking a set from his idol on Sunday, it will have to be considered a smashing success. Of course, even if he doesn’t, the experience will be once-in-a-lifetime kind of stuff.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.