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By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, October 4, 2020

Rafael Nadal

Reigning champion Rafael Nadal crushed qualifier Sebastian Korda 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 streaking into his 14th Roland Garros quarterfinal.

Photo credit: Roland Garros Facebook

Rafael Nadal is Sebastian Korda’s tennis inspiration.

Today, the 12-time Roland Garros champion played tennis instructor.

More: Swiatek Steamrolls Halep

A dynamic Nadal schooled American qualifier Korda 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 streaking into his 14th Roland Garros quarterfinal—and receiving an autograph request from his impressed opponent..

Crunching crosscourt combinations with vigor, Nadal spread the court effectively and moved with efficiency raising his Roland Garros record to 97-2.

It is Nadal’s 42nd career Grand Slam quarterfinal giving him sole possession of third place on the all-time list for most major quarterfinal appearances behind Roger Federer (57) and Novak Djokovic (46).

A shrewd wind player, Nadal showed his skill adapting to unruly conditions, including hitting a spinning 360-degree shot that a gust had blown away from his body at one point. 

Tennis Express

It all added up to a comprehensive opening week for Nadal, who is pleased with his performance powering into the quarterfinals.

"Well, I'm in quarterfinals without losing a set and having very positive scores," Nadal said. "So I can't complain at all. So happy for that. What I have to improve, I don't know. I am doing a lot of things well, I think.

"I am quite happy about the way that I am playing and the practices I am feeling every time a little bit better and better. Today the conditions out there have been so difficult to play a fantastic match, have been impossible because the wind was very high. But in general terms I am, yeah, very happy."

Continuing his march to match Federer’s all-time Grand Slam mark by winning his 20th career major championship in Paris, Nadal will face talented 19-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner for a semifinal spot.

Sinner stopped US Open finalist Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to become the first man to reach the quarterfinals in his Roland Garros debut since Nadal did it back in 2005. Sinner is the youngest man to reach the last eight in a Grand Slam since Novak Djokovic made the 2006 French Open quarterfinals.

"If it's Jannik, he's young, he's improving every single week," Nadal said. "So he's playing better and better and better. It will be a big challenge. It will be the first time playing against him on the tour. I practice with him a couple of times, he has an amazing potential, he move the hand very quick and he's able to produce amazing shots.

"So, yeah, I need to play my best against any opponent."

Giving his opponent a guided tour of a blustery Court Philippe Chatrier, Nadal converted eight of 11 break points today and won 61 percent of points played on Korda’s first serve in a powerful performance.

The 20-year-old Korda calls Nadal his tennis idol and even named his cat after the king of clay. A former junior world No. 1, Korda is the son of 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda and playing just his fourth Tour-level event in Paris.

Korda came away even more impressed with Nadal after spending nearly two hours on court with his tennis hero.

"Just seeing him across the net. I mean, ever since I was a kid, I was in love with him and everything about him," Korda said. "I would watch every single match. Doesn't matter who he was playing or what tournament he was playing, he was the guy for me.

"It was an unbelievable moment for me and I couldn't have written it any better. Qualifying for my first Grand Slam, winning my first tour-level match, and then playing Rafa on Chatrier in the fourth round of a Grand Slam, it's a big blessing."

The world No. 213 earned a couple of break points in the opening game, but Nadal negated both navigating a nine-minute hold to open. The young American held a game point in the second game, but Nadal whipped a series of forehands provoking a cluster of unforced errors to break for 2-0.

That response to slight stress sparked Nadal who surged to a 5-0 lead before Korda stamped a love hold to get on the board.

The depth of Nadal’s drives—and his skill using his topspin to create high-percentage crosscourt angles that chased Korda off the court—empowered him to command baseline rallies.

The second-seeded Spaniard rolled through 12 of the first 14 games seizing a two-set lead.

The first man born in 2000 to reach the Roland Garros third round, Korda showed desire but could not match Nadal's consistency and ferocity.

Korda’s best moments of the match came when he broke to start the third set and backed up the break for a 2-0 lead—his only lead of the day. Nadal burst through eight straight points to get back on serve wrapping a commanding conquest on a six-game run.

Still, Korda came away with valuable experience, a clay-court lesson and possibly a Nadal autograph: he asked the king of clay for a signed shirt during the post-match racquet tap.

"It was definitely the best moment of my life," Korda said. "Yeah, it was super awesome. I think after the match I asked him for a signed shirt when we were tapping rackets. So I don't know if anyone's ever asked him for an autograph after a match, but that was definitely the coolest moment of my life and one I'll never forget for sure."

An oppressive Nadal has permitted just 23 games in four tournament victories.


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