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"Rafael Nadal's an unbelievable player. I named my cat after him" - His next opponent Sebastian Korda

Rafael Nadal during his second round win at the 2020 French Open
Rafael Nadal during his second round win at the 2020 French Open
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 02 Oct 2020, 23:22 IST
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30 years ago Petr Korda reached the final of the French Open doubles event. And two years later, the Czech left-hander reached the singles final at Roland Garros, where he lost to Jim Courier.

This week, his son, the 20-year-old Sebastian Korda, has been one of the big breakthrough stories at the 2020 Roland Garros event as he is through to the fourth round. Korda Jr. is now set to face 19-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal on Sunday.

Korda entered the tournament ranked No. 213 in the world, having never won a tour-level match prior to this event. He came through the qualifying draw and on Friday, scored a third round win over Pedro Martinez. That made him the first qualifier to reach the last 16 in Paris in nine years.

This was after he had scored wins over Italy's Andreas Seppi and No. 21 seed John Isner in his first two rounds.

Korda's reward for his efforts this week is a fourth-round showdown with Rafael Nadal, the 12-time champion at Roland Garros. But the 20-year-old wouldn't mind that given the kind of inspiration that the King of Clay has been for him.

Sebastian Korda during his third round win over Pedro Martinez of Spain at the French Open
Sebastian Korda during his third round win over Pedro Martinez of Spain at the French Open

In fact, while this will be the first meeting between the two players, Korda is quite familiar with another Rafa. The Korda family has a pet cat named 'Rafa', in honor of the legendary Spaniard.

Sebastian Korda himself acknowledged just how much he admires Rafael Nadal after his third round win on Friday.

"He's an unbelievable player," Korda said. "I named my cat after him, so that explains a lot how much I love him."
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Sebastian Korda's sisters say he would be very excited to play Rafael Nadal at the French Open

In an interview with the ATP Tour website, Korda's sisters Nelly and Jessica, who play professional golf on the LPGA Tour, said their younger brother would be thrilled to play Rafael Nadal in the fourth round.

Rafael Nadal is a 12-time champion at Roland Garros
Rafael Nadal is a 12-time champion at Roland Garros
"Honestly I think he would be so excited on court,” Nelly said.
“He’d have the biggest smile on his face,” Jessica said. “For someone who doesn’t show a whole lot of emotion, I guarantee he’d have a smile on his face.”
Nelly added: “Or just before he would just be freaking out and be like, ‘Oh my God, this is so cool!’"
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Jessica admitted that nerves will likely play a role as her brother takes on his idol on Sunday. But she also thinks he will look back on the experience with relish.

"As it would start he would be very intense," Jessica said. "And then after be like, ‘That was the coolest thing ever!’"

Rafael Nadal advanced to the fourth round on Friday with a win over Stefano Travaglia. He is unlikely to have too many problems against the flat-hitting Sebastian Korda on Sunday, but fans all over the world will still tune in to see what kind of challenge the breakout star can provide.

Published 02 Oct 2020, 23:22 IST
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