27 Jan 2018

Korda and Liang win Australian Open

News Article

By Sandra Harwitt

Photo: Martin SidorjakEn Shuo Liang (TPE)

The Australian Open is clearly Korda country as father-and-son have now enjoyed success at Melbourne Park.

On a very warm summer day in Melbourne, American Sebastian Korda, the seventh seed, won the junior boys’ title with a 76(6) 64 win over sixth seed Tseng Chun Hsin of Chinese Taipei on Saturday.

Exactly twenty years ago, Korda’s dad, Petr, who played under the Czech flag, won the Australian Open with a 62 62 62 win over Marcelo Rios of Chile.

Melbourne’s also been an important place for his sister, Jessica, the oldest of his two older LPGA playing sisters. She won her first career title at the 2012 Women’s Australian Open played at Royal Melbourne. His other sister, Nelly, earned her LPGA status last year and must have the Women’s Australian Open on her bucket list.

“It’s definitely special, including being here in Australia,” said Korda, of his victory. “I mean, my sister won her first title here, as well. My dad won his only Grand Slam title here, so it’s very special.”

This was Korda’s first trip to play the Australian Open juniors, bypassing the event to play Futures tournaments in Florida last year. During last season, Korda, and his best friend, Nicolas Mejia of Columbia, decided they would come Down Under this year. The duo, seeded second in boys’ doubles, reached the quarterfinals.

The poised 17-year-old Korda already seems to have the winner’s speech down pat, remembering to thank sponsors, ball kids and tournament organizers. Then he had a special message for his dad, who celebrated his 50th birthday back in Florida on the 23rd of January.

“I want to wish a happy birthday to my dad,” he said, adding to that sentiment later on in the press conference, saying, “The main goal here, was try to get this tournament for my dad on his 50th birthday. My mom’s (former player Regina Rajchrtova) birthday is on the 5th of February, so it’s special as well.”

While both of his parents were tennis players, Korda initially started out playing ice hockey, despite growing up in Southwest Florida. But once he made a trip to a Grand Slam event he was hooked on tennis and the individual aspect of the sport.

Korda, laughing, says at home the family speaks Czecklish. He says with his sisters he usually speaks English; with his parents more often Czech. 

In his last three matches here, the younger Korda decided to adopt his fathers’ victory scissor kick. Today, Korda was rather calm in victory, but remembered to walk back onto the court and give the crowd the Korda Kick!

Korda is primarily coached by his dad, and has made it a habit to watch his father’s big Australian Open moment, so he’s very familiar with the match despite not yet being born.

“I’ve seen his match on YouTube a lot,” Korda said. “I watch it a least, maybe, once a month. A little bit of motivation.

“He knows I’ve watched it multiple times.”

In the final, the younger Korda had nine aces, 34 winners, won 15 of 20 points at the net. He nervously dropped his first serve of the match at love, but pulled even to 2-2, leaving the first set to be decided in the tiebreaker.

Korda fell behind 0-2 in the second set, but recouped the service break in the next game. Korda broke serve again in the fifth game, which provided the lead he needed to win the match.

“Every tournament I go to, I always want to win it, no matter if I’m playing a Challenger event, a Futures event,” Korda said. “I always think I can always have a good chance of winning it.”

Despite the loss, Tseng was happy with his stay at the Australian Open.

“I really spent a great week here in Melbourne,” Tseng Chun Hsin said. He played very aggressive on his backhand and a very good serve.”

The girls’ title went to second-seeded Liang En Shuo, who posted a 63 64 win over Clara Burel of France in 64-minutes.

“It’s like a dream, really, “ said Liang, of winning a Grand Slam trophy. “Like I’m still in a dream. Cannot believe.”

Liang went ahead 4-1 in the first set, which eventually put her a set ahead. Burel had a momentary 2-0 lead in the second set, but it evaporated to where Liang, serving at 5-4, saved three break points to close out the match.

Liang initially started playing piano as an outside interest, but once she was introduced to tennis, she was done banging the keys.

“I start playing tennis at six because I was playing piano before,” she said. “My mom want me to have exercise, so she choose tennis for me.”

Armed with a first Grand Slam junior title, Liang has her sights set on playing another special event later in the season.

“After Melbourne, I’ll go to more junior (events) because this year I have the Youth Olympic Games, so I will try to get into the Youth Olympic Games,” she said.