Djokovic sets Korda clash for title

7 January 2023, by Dan Imhoff

Novak Djokovic will face Sebastian Korda for the Adelaide International title after a clinical dismissal of third seed Daniil Medvedev on Saturday night.

A mid-match injury timeout to treat a hamstring strain at 5-2 in the opening set came as some concern but did little to hamper the Serbian as he lifted to notch a 6-3, 6-4 triumph before a packed house.

“Winning against him in straight sets, couldn’t ask for more. Except that little scare with the hamstring, but everything else was great,” Djokovic said.

“As the tournament progresses, every match I play better. That’s something that obviously is something I wish for, something I work for, hope for.

“I’m hitting the ball very well. I obviously played a couple matches. Tomorrow we’re going to have a late day session, still some sun on the court, so different conditions. It plays differently in the night. Ball bounces less and it’s a bit slower. Obviously it helps when you’re playing big servers, you can return their serve better.”

In a battle of former No.1s, Medvedev had not beaten his rival since the 2021 US Open final and had not managed to get across the line against a top-10 opponent in his previous eight attempts.

If there was a surface he was going to break his hoodoo on though, this was it.

The challenge was executing it against a man who had not lost to a top-10 opponent in his previous eight attempts.

With his back to the wall after surrendering serve at 3-all in the second set on just his second double fault, Medvedev clobbered a forehand return at Djokovic’s feet and threaded the pass, waving his arms to elicit a wild crowd response.

Not to be outdone, Djokovic saved the break point on a 200km/h second-serve ace and returned the favour, setting off a brief tit-for-tat between the pair of whipping their arms above their head to raise the crowd response with each impressive exchange.

The top seed’s resolve was temporarily tested but could not be broken as he served it out after 84 minutes.

“I served extremely well. I think that helps when you play Daniil, who is one of the best defenders in the game, one of the best servers in the game,” Djokovic said.

“He doesn’t give too many free points, you got to earn your points. In important moments I went for some big serves. They went in.

“He also went for some big serves and he missed. Even though it was a 3-4 scoreline in the end of the match, maybe one or two shots, points decided the winner.

“That’s also expected in matchups kind of like this one.”

Korda aims for second career title

Korda earlier advanced to his third tour final from his past four events after his opponent Yoshihito Nishioka’s mid-match retirement.

Twenty-five years since his father Petr Korda’s Australian Open triumph, the 22-year-old closed to within a match of joining the family ranks of titlists Down Under with his 7-6(5), 1-0 (ret) victory.

“Both my sisters actually won the Australian Open in golf,” Korda said. “One of my sisters won here in I think Royal Adelaide so we have a lot of great history with Australia and it’s treating us well.”

Korda had emerged from a fiercely contested 59-minute opening set before the world No.36 called for the trainer to have his right hip treated after being broken for 1-0 in the second.

It brought an end to the match and handed Korda the chance to aim for his second career title.

“I mean, it’s massive. Playing either against Novak Djokovic, one of the greatest of all time, or Medvedev, who in the last couple years has been on the top. I’m really excited for it,” Korda said.

“It’s going to be a great learning experience for me no matter what the outcome. But I’m going to go for the win tomorrow and I’m going to give it my all.”