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Korda outlasts Hurkacz, sets up rematch with Khachanov

It’s Karen Khachanov vs. Sebastian Korda in the Australian Open quarterfinals.

What could possibly go wrong?!?!

The only previous Grand Slam meeting between Khachanov and Korda will live in infamy. At Wimbledon in 2021, the Russian won a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 10-8 thriller to earn a spot in the quarters. But the scoreline hardly tells the story. There were 19 service breaks in the match, including an utterly outrageous 13 in the fifth set alone. Yes–13 breaks in a single set of grass-court tennis. From 3-3 to 7-7, they broke each other eight times in a row. After Korda twice led by a break early in the decider, Khachanov gave back break advantages on four occasions–including failure to serve out the match at 5-4, 6-5, and 7-6. He finally sealed the deal with a shocking love hold at 9-8.

Mercifully for Khachanov and Korda, all four Grand Slams have since invoked the “John Isner Rule” and use a 10-point tiebreaker at 6-6 in the fifth set.

Sure enough, that rule came into play for Korda in his fourth-round showdown against Hubert Hurkacz on Sunday afternoon. Like the Khachanov vs. Korda head-scratcher, the deciding set of Korda vs. Hurkacz was a bit of a train wreck in terms of quality. Unlike Khachanov vs. Korda, Sunday’s contest featured a grand total of zero service breaks in the fifth. In the end, Korda survived a mid-tiebreaker collapse (from 7-3 to 7-7) and came up with some of his best stuff when it mattered most to prevail 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6(10-7).

It was a much-needed win for the 22-year-old American, who already has a history of tightening up at the big moments of big matches. He blew a 5-1 lead in the third set against Rafael Nadal last season in Indian Wells and lost from match point up against Novak Djokovic earlier this month in the Auckland final.

“I think I’m really good at just kind of moving forward, learning from my mistakes, what I’ve done in the past, then using them in matches like this,” Korda commented following the battle with Hurkacz. “I’ve had a tough match with Rafa, serving for it a couple times; match point with Djokovic. I think that really helped me, especially in the last match [in the Australian Open third round against Daniil Medvedev]. Then today, as well.

“I think all those little moments that I’ve gone through–kind of learning from them, staying patient, staying positive, going through the process–I think have really helped me going forward.”

If the quarterfinal against Khachanov is anything like their Wimbledon encounter, Korda will need all the help he can get.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.