Nadal praises Korda as a future star
Sebastian Korda grew up with Rafael Nadal.
Twenty-time Grand Slam champion Nadal says it won't be long before the ATP tour looks up to Korda in the rankings.
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Top seed Nadal trained with Korda at the Citi Open before returning to the pro track in Washington, DC.
When asked to assess Korda's game and potential, Nadal called the American in 45th place a complete player who could one day fight for the top spot.
"Yes, we practiced together yesterday," said Nadal of Korda. "I think he's young. Good looks, good serve, good shots from the baseline. I think he's a great guy, a complete player.
"He's got a lot to do in our sport over the next few years. I've always believed since I've seen him play that he will have a chance to become one of the best players in the world."
The 21-year-old Korda calls Nadal his tennis idol and even named his cat after the King of Sand. Former number 1 in the junior world, Korda is the son of 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda and was playing his fourth tour-level event at Roland Garros last fall when he reached the round of 16 and only played four games graduated against Nadal.
Korda was even more impressed with Nadal by the experience after spending almost two hours on the court with his tennis hero.
"I've only seen him on the internet. I mean, I've been in love with him and everything about him since I was a kid," said Korda. "I watched every single game. No matter who he was playing or what tournament he was playing, he was the guy for me.
"It was an incredible moment for me and I couldn't have written it better. To qualify for my first Grand Slam, win my first Tour Level match and then play in the fourth round of a Grand Slam against Rafa against Chatrier, that's a great blessing. "
Thirteen-time Roland Garros champion Nadal says Korda is still learning and needs to refine his game, but is convinced the young American "will be a great one".
"I think he has everything he needs to be an absolute top guy," said Nadal of Korda. “Of course it's not easy then and you have to keep improving.
"But I definitely think if you ask me he'll be a great one."
Photo credit: Christopher Levy