Novak Djokovic of Serbia edged past Sebastian Korda of the United States 6-7 7-6 6-4 in the final of the Adelaide International on Sunday to win his 92nd career ATP title. It was a match of very high quality as Djokovic was pushed to the limit by his talented young opponent.
The 21-time Grand Slam champion will now start as the favorite to win the Australian Open in Melbourne, his favorite hunting ground.
Two keys to Novak Djokovic’s win over Sebastian Korda in the Adelaide Final
#1. Korda’s brilliant backhand helped him win the first set:
Korda knew that he had to attack in order to upstage Djokovic on a fast surface and he did so from the very beginning. The 22-year-old American’s backhand helped him dominate the 35-year-old Djokovic during the long rallies.
There were a lot of crosscourt backhand exchanges in the set, but Korda was typically the first to pull the trigger by going down-the-line with his backhand and won a few points that way.
Korda broke Djokovic in the ninth game of the set, but the Serb managed to break back in the subsequent game itself. Korda played a number of crosscourt angles shots off either wing to move the Serb from side to side. However, Djokovic’s supreme fitness and great defensive skills helped him stay afloat.
Korda still managed to prevail in the tie-break that followed and hit yet another fabulous down-the-line backhand in the process.
#2. The redoubtable Djokovic changed his tactic somewhat to bounce back:
It’s not often that Djokovic is reduced to being the second best in the longer baseline exchanges. Judging that he was being dominated by Korda from the baseline, Djokovic went into the net more frequently from the second set onwards, including a few occasions when he opted for serve-and-volley.
Moreover, he also started the backhand slice more often to take the pace off the ball and thereby preventing Korda from playing his effective down-the-line backhand. Still, the Serb had to save a match point in the 10th game of the second set, but he then recovered to race through the tie-break that followed.
With hardly anything separating the two players, it boiled down to a few key moments that were going to determine the fate of the match. One such moment came with the Serb leading 5-4, 40-40 in the third set. Korda played an angled approach off his forehands, but Djokovic played a wonderful defensive lob to push the American back.
Korda waited for the ball to bounce and then hit a overhead smash into the net. It turned out to be a pivotal points, as Korda hit a shot wide off his forehand to hand Djokovic the victory. Djokovic’s immense mental fortitude was on display for the umpteenth time in his glittering career, but Korda must have been proud of his performance.
Main Photo from Getty.