Sebastian Korda on Sunday earned the biggest win of his career when he battled past 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz in five gripping sets to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals.
The 29th-seed American advanced to the last eight at a Grand Slam for the first time with a back-and-forth 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6(10-7) victory against the Polish star. He will play Karen Khachanov for a place in the semifinals.
“It was difficult but I’m very happy with the way I kind of just stayed down, kept going through it,” he said. “I had a little superstition about the towel. The towel got me through it. Every time I went to the towel I won the point, so I just kept going to it.”
The American claimed an upset in the third round when he ousted back-to-back Australian Open finalist Daniil Medvedev in a flawless straight-sets display.
Korda is just the third American to reach the quarterfinals at the season’s first Grand Slam since Andy Roddick last accomplished the feat in 2010. Tennys Sandgren (twice) and Frances Tiafoe have also reached the last eight since.
After four mostly straightforward sets, the decider was full of drama, with a maiden berth in the Australian Open quarterfinals on the line for both men.
Hurkacz earned two break points at 5-5. If the Pole converted, he would have served for his place in the quarterfinals. But Korda played with nerves of steel to escape trouble.
In the deciding tie-break, there were momentum swings galore. Korda, during one stretch, won six consecutive points only to watch his lead slip away. But he never panicked, closing out his victory with a perfect backhand passing shot up the line.
Korda will next try to earn his third consecutive ATP head-to-head win against Khachanov (Korda leads the series 2-1). Their most memorable clash came at Wimbledon in 2021, when Khachanov triumphed 10-8 in the fifth set of a clash that featured 19 service breaks.