If Andrey Rublev has it his way, a defeat of Sebastian Korda in the Miami Open presented by Itau quarter-finals will ensure the #NextGenATP American’s parents no longer have to put an urgent trip to Palm Springs on hold.
Korda’s sisters, Nelly and Jessica, are contesting their first LPGA major of 2021 on the opposite side of the country. But due to the 20-year-old’s run to his maiden ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final, parents Petr Korda and Regina Rajchrtova have had to wait to join their daughters’ support squad.
Korda has been on a tear this week in Miami, notching his first Top 20 win over Fabio Fognini and first Top 10 victory over fifth seed Diego Schwartzman. No man has won more matches in 2021 than Rublev, though.
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Like Korda, the fourth seed is vying for his first Masters 1000 semi-final and carries a 19-3 record for the season so far into the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting. The Russian was clinical in his straight-sets dismissal of former World No. 3 Marin Cilic.
“I think it will be a lot of fun,” Korda said of the showdown. “We are both big hitters, and he’s having a great season and a great whole year pretty much. He’s probably the hottest player on tour right now, and it’s going to be another cool opportunity for me and another cool experience to play such a player like him.”
Rublev has been on fire this season, opening with the ATP Cup trophy for Russia and adding an ATP 500 title in Rotterdam last month, before back-to-back hard-court semi-finals in Doha and Dubai. Korda, though, is enjoying a breakout season, having reached his maiden ATP Tour final at the Delray Beach Open in January. Wins over the likes of John Isner, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Marin Cilic in the first three months of 2021 have already given his parents plenty of which to be proud.
“Having them here, it’s a dream come true,” Korda said. “I always dreamed about playing around my family and playing the big matches and winning the tight matches.
“It’s cool to share this experience with them. I wish my sisters were here, but they are doing their thing in California. Hopefully I can keep going.”
Second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and 26th seed Hubert Hurkacz are also searching for their first Masters 1000 trophy and will square off in Thursday’s first quarter-final. The Greek spoke of using the disappointment of defeat in the Acapulco final leading in as inspiration in South Florida. So far so good after beating Damir Dzumhur, Kei Nishikori and Lorenzo Sonego in succession.
“I’m thrilled to be playing the way I’m playing. I’m having a great impact with my game so far this week, so it’s important for me to capitalise [on] that,” Tsitsipas said. “Each single opponent has been a separate challenge, and I’ve been managing to find solutions against them.”
Tsitsipas leads the Pole 6-1 in the pair’s ATP Head2Head, however, their past five showdowns have all gone three sets. Hurkacz is coming off impressive victories over Canadian seeds Denis Shapovalov and Milos Raonic and said he felt perfectly at home in Florida, having won the Delray Beach Open in January.
“Last year I spent here like over five months,” Hurkacz said. “So I got used to the weather and the conditions here, so I think that’s kind of [an] advantage for me. But each site is different. Each [tournament’s] conditions, the balls are different, but I enjoy being here and playing here.”
ORDER OF PLAY – THURSDAY, APRIL 01
GRANDSTAND starts at 01:00 PM
[ATP]  H. Hurkacz (POL) vs  S. Tsitsipas (GRE)
[WTA] NB 3:00 PM  A. Barty (AUS) vs  E. Svitolina (UKR)
[ATP] NB 7:00 PM S. Korda (USA) vs  A. Rublev (RUS)
[WTA] NB 8:30 PM  B. Andreescu (CAN) vs  M. Sakkari (GRE)
COURT 1 starts at 01:00 PM
[ATP]  R. Ram (USA) / J. Salisbury (GBR) vs  N. Mektic (CRO) / M. Pavic (CRO)
[ATP] D. Evans (GBR) / N. Skupski (GBR) vs  I. Dodig (CRO) / F. Polasek (SVK)