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Khachanov in semi-finals of Australian Open after Korda’s retirement


Karen Khachanov reached her second consecutive Grand Slam semi-final Tuesday as Sebastian Korda retired from the Australian Open with an injury, ending the young American’s father Petr’s dream of emulating the 1998 title race.

Korda needed treatment for a wrist injury in the second set of the quarterfinals before quitting at Rod Laver Arena after trailing Russia’s 18th place 7-6 (7/5), 6-3, 3-0.

Khachanov’s prize will be a match against third-seeded Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas or unseeded Czech Jiri Lehecka, who will play later to qualify for Sunday’s final.

The victory equates to the 26-year-old’s best performance in a major after his semi-final run at the US Open last September, when he lost to Casper Ruud of Norway.

The Olympic silver medalist, who won four titles at tour level, came into the game with much more experience than Korda at this stage of a Grand Slam, reaching the last eight in all four majors.

In contrast, Korda, 22, was in her first quarterfinals.

Khachanov also had a much easier ride, defeating Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka in straight sets in the fourth round, with Korda tackling a five-set thriller against Hubert Hurkacz.

“I think it’s a very competitive, very good battle up to a certain point,” Khachanov said.

“He beat my friend Daniil (Medvedev) in three sets and won against Hurkacz in five sets, so you know he played great. So applaud him.

“Honestly, I feel good and I’m really happy with the way I’m competing.” For the first time here in Australia, I’m looking forward to the semi-finals.”

Reaching his career-high ranking in 2019, Khachanov started by serving love, then taking an easy break with Korda’s early nerves showing to score 2-0.

The American finally cleared the goal to hold 3-1 as Khachanov swung his crosscourt forehand wide.

But with the Russians popping the aces and winning more than 90 percent on his first serve, he had little chance of backing out.

However, when Khachanov was serving the set, a sudden backhand gave Korda his first break point opportunity, and Korda caught the ball with both hands.

The match went to a tiebreak, and Khachanov was brave enough to seal the nerve with a terrific backstroke from the third set point down the line.

Serving in the second set, Korda needed treatment on her right wrist with a score of 3-2. It came back wrapped but was quickly broken.

The Russian pulled himself together and as Korda struggled, he flexed his ankle between the points, breaking it again to take a two-set lead.

Korda left the field, obviously getting in trouble. He continued but lost the opening 10 point of the third set before retiring.

mp/pst



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