Why Sebastian Korda Is Poised For A Breakout 2023

Sebastian Korda during the ATP Adelaide International final.

22-year-old Sebastian Korda has tennis in his blood. Son of 1998 Australian Open Champion Petr, Sebi has had a racquet in his hand since before he could walk. When watching the young Korda play, it becomes apparent that he has been meticulously primed for his professional career.

Impressive Showing in Adelaide

Korda’s consistency and seemingly effortless power from the baseline are only matched by the world’s best. In his encounter with Novak Djokovic in the Adelaide on Sunday, Korda looked like he belonged, giving the 21-time Grand Slam champion all he could handle. And this against man who has won nine of those 21 Majors in Australia. Despite falling 7-6 6-7 4-6, the young American was unphased by the long rallies Djokovic typically excels in.

During the Adelaide final, Korda displayed his complete variety of groundstrokes. He absorbed the power of Djokovic and redirected balls up the line. His backhand is very clean and compact, marking one of the evidential details that separate a good player from a great one. During Sunday’s final, Korda embraced backhand rallies with Djokovic and won his fair share of those encounters. Despite the loss, I believe Korda’s runner-up finish at his first event of the year is a telltale sign of things to come.

During his post-match interview, Korda was bullish about his season prospects.

“I’m finally getting that feeling of I belong here; I belong to play with these guys. I think it only just gives me heaps of confidence going forward. I definitely have the game for it (beating anyone on tour). I’ve got to thank my parents for that. But, yeah, I mean, I know what I’m capable of. Just waiting for my time.”

What is there not to like about Korda’s game?

Dating back to last season, Korda holds a 12-4 record in his previous four events. He has reached the final in three of those four tournaments, notching wins against Roberto Bautista Agut, Karen Khachanov, Andy Murray, Jannik Sinner, and Dominic Thiem, among others. Korda enters his third full season as a tour-level professional with confidence. The past two seasons have been a tremendous learning experience for the young American. Wins over players like Carlos Alcaraz, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Cameron Norrie prove that the 22-year-old can compete with the best in the sport.

Standing at 6-foot-5, with long, lanky limbs, Korda has the makeup of a player who can turn into one of the better servers in the sport. During his five matches in Adelaide, Korda tallied 53 aces and just six double faults. Like most young players, consistency with the serve comes as you get older. Korda seems poised to turn into an elite server in 2023. Pair that with his consistency from the ground, and we are looking at a top-ten player in the sport.

Looking ahead to 2023

Korda will be seeded at the 2023 Australian Open, just the second Slam the 22-year-old will have been awarded a seed at during his young career (2022 Roland Garros). As we know, this means Korda will not face another seeded player until at least the round of 32. After that, it’s anyone’s game and I can assure you some of the top seeds in the event will want to avoid playing an in-form Korda.

Some of his shortcomings in 2022 will be a blessing in disguise in 2023. When it comes to ranking points, Korda is not defending anything overly out of the ordinary. Three ATP 250 runner-up finishes where he earned 150 points apiece is the most challenging thing the American must defend. He did not reach a single second week in a Slam last season, nor did he reach a Masters 1000 quarterfinal.

A strong run in two or three Slams/Masters events will catapult Korda up the rankings. On top of all that, Korda did not play any grass events in 2022 due to shin splints. Despite having a limited amount of history on the surface, his hammer of a serve and offensive game should suit him well on the grass. Look for young Korda to have a very fruitful 2023 season that sees him ascend to the top of the sport.

Main photo:
Embed from Getty Images