#NextGenATP American Sebastian Korda booked a spot into his second ATP Tour final with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over countryman Tommy Paul on Friday at the Emilia-Romagna Open.
Korda, who leads the Americans on the ATP Tour with 15 wins this season, will face Italian wild card Marco Cecchinato in his career first clay-court final. He will be aiming to become the first American since Sam Querrey in 2010 Belgrade (d. Isner) to lift a trophy on European clay.
“It’s going to be tough [playing an Italian in Italy], but it’s probably going to be super fun,” said the 20-year-old in an on-court interview. “[It will be] another new experience. My first ATP clay-court final. I’m super excited, and whatever happens tomorrow I will give it my all. Hopefully we can play a good match.”
Korda has not dropped a set all week in Parma, and came out firing against his countryman and Davis Cup teammate. His deep returning kept Paul under pressure, and Korda created five break opportunities in the sixth seed’s first three service games. He finally broke through on his sixth opportunity at 4-3 to close out the opening set.
The #NextGenATP American faced nine break points during the match, and saved eight. Paul broke to level the score in the second set at 1-1, but his opponent didn’t give him any other chances. Korda reeled off the last four games in a row from 2-3 to reestablish his lead, and seal his spot in the final.
It will be Korda’s first meeting with wild card Cecchinato, who needed two hours and 40 minutes to overcome a stern test against Marbella finalist Jaume Munar. Cecchinato saved five of the nine break points he faced to take down the Spaniard 7-6(2), 1-6, 6-1.
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“It was a tough match. [There were] so many rallies. Every point [was] tough, every point [had] tension,” Cecchinato said. “After the first set I was down in the second set 6-1, but I was really happy because I started well in the third set.
“The result is not ‘true’ because [the third set score] shows 6-1 but every point [was] tough. I’m very happy for this match.”
Cecchinato is into his first final of the year, and the fifth of his career (3-1) in Parma. He will be aiming to become the fourth different Italian champion on the ATP Tour this season, joining Matteo Berrettini (Belgrade 1), Jannik Sinner (Melbourne 1) and Lorenzo Sonego (Cagliari).