CNN

Sebastian Korda may have eliminated some of the best players in the world and is preparing for his first Australian Open quarter-final, but the 22-year-old still says he is the ‘worst athlete’ in his family .

In truth, the young American has a tougher competition than most, coming from a family full of champions in two different sports.

Both of her parents are former tennis players. His father, Petr, won the Australian Open in 1998, while his mother, Regina Rajchrtova, reached a career high of 26.

His sisters, Jessica and Nelly, are both professional golf players – and very good players.

Jessica has won six LPGA events in her career, while Nelly won the PGA Women’s Championship in 2021.

Speaking after beating two-time finalist Daniil Medvedev in straight sets in the third round on Friday, Korda served up a slice of self-mockery.

“I don’t know what ranking I’m going to be ranked in,” he said in his post-match interview on the pitch.

“But my mom’s career peak was 26, my dad was two, my sister Nelly was No. 1, my older sister Jessica was six, so I’m definitely the worst athlete in the family so far. !”

Korda, who is currently world No. 31, is expected to move up the rankings after a brilliant run in Melbourne.

After beating two-time Australian Open runner-up Medvedev on Friday, he followed that up with a hard-fought victory over Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in his career.

However, he needed five sets to get past Hurkacz, including a tiebreaker in the final set in which he relied on superstition.

“The towel helped me,” he laughed. “Every time I went to the towel I won the point, so I kept going. My new friend.”

Korda is part of a new generation of American tennis players who have begun to make an impact on the sport’s biggest stages.

Korda is a former Australian Open junior champion and won his first, and so far only, ATP title two years ago.

He also came within a point of beating Novak Djokovic at the Adelaide International on January 8, showing his ability to perform against the best.

“American players have pushed each other and helped each other to believe that they can compete at this level,” former player-turned-broadcaster John McEnroe said in a recent interview with Eurosport when discussing the possible winners. in Melbourne this year.

“If I had to choose one, I would probably choose Sebastian Korda; he is the youngest of this current group of Americans and the one with the most advantages right now.

Korda's sisters, Nelly Korda and Jessica, are both professional golfers.

In addition to her talented family, Korda can also count on the support of mentor Andre Agassi.

The eight-time Grand Slam champion has been helping his young compatriot for two years, during which time he has become one of the hottest prospects on the tour.

Korda said Agassi stayed up all night in the United States watching him play his games in Melbourne and was grateful for his support.

“He’s one of the most special people in my life. We started talking during Covid in 2020. He was one of the most important parts of my rise,” Korda said, according to the ATP .

“Just overall, as a tennis player, as a human being. We spend a lot of time together. Yes, he is very special to me.

Korda will face Russia’s Karen Khachanov in the quarter-finals on Tuesday and, no doubt, her whole family will be watching.

His sister Nelly, however, has no time for her little brother’s modesty.

“It’s completely BS,” she told reporters at the Hilton Grand Vacations LPGA Tournament of Champions on Saturday, when asked about her brother’s claims that he was the worst in the family. .

“Honestly, he’s the best. His hand-eye coordination is amazing. His swing – I’m jealous of his swing actually.

“It’s crazy. He’s a left-hander. He’s a natural right-hander, but he plays golf left-handed. He played hockey left-handed. I mean, he grew up playing hockey – he was pretty good too .

“He skates really well, plays golf well, plays tennis beautifully.”

While it remains to be seen how he fares in Melbourne, Korda has what it takes to become America’s next big star.

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