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Tennis • Nadal Hammers Korda to Reach Quarters In Paris • Aftermath More Interesting Than the Match

Rafael Nadal swept American qualifier Sebastian Korda to charge into his 14th French Open quarterfinal without dropping a set.

By Ricky Dimon

Rafael Nadal crushed Sebastian Korda 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 in just one hour and 55 minutes during fourth-round action at the French Open on Sunday afternoon.

For Korda, it was one hour and 55 minutes of bliss–despite the lopsided scoreline that certainly was not in his favor.

When this matchup was assured two days earlier following their respective third-round wins, the 20-year-old American and son of former Australian Open champion Petr Korda talked about how he idolizes Nadal.

“He’s my biggest idol,” Korda commented. “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.”

And he doesn’t love the 19-time Grand Slam champion any less after being sent packing from Paris. After Sunday’s match ended, Korda asked Nadal for his autograph and Nadal of course obliged. In fact, it looks like the world No. 2 even signed the shirt that he wore during the match!

“To my friends Sebastian all the very best in your tennis career,” Nadal wrote.

That moment was both funny and awesome. As for the Spaniard’s post-match press conference, it was funny–and not awesome. First, Nadal was asked what it’s like being a seeded player in the second week of a Grand Slam. It’s as if he is some 21-year-old who is seeded at a slam for the first time in his career.

Rafael Nadal will face 19-year-old Italian sensation Jannik Sinner for a spot in the French Open final four.

Q. I have a question for you. For you as a seeded player you’re expected to be in the second week of a Grand Slam. Coming into the second week is there less pressure? Do you feel less pressure, a little bit less pressure because you’re a seeded player and you’re into week two?

Things only got more bizarre thereafter.

Q. Can you sympathize with us a little because you keep winning so it’s often tough for us to ask you new questions. But I know you say you will always give us your best answers. So at the very start of the match you lost the ball briefly for a second from Sebastian’s return, you spun around like a ballroom dancer, you found it again, and made a great return. So my questions are: Have you ever lost something that is important to you and did you find it? And do you often move like a dancer on the court, do you like dancing off the court? If so, what is your favorite dance?

Q. Have you ever lost anything that you have then found?

(Nadal doesn’t understand)

Q. Have you ever lost anything that you have found? It might even be a phone.

Unfortunately, terrible questions in press conferences are nothing out of the ordinary. Even even by those standards, though, these are bad. As always, Nadal handled them with class; but there is a reason why players generally dislike press conferences, and this is one of the reasons. Be better, reporters!

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