02:00 AM GMT January 08, 2021
#NextGenATP American Sebastian Korda set up an all-American second-round clash against fifth-seeded Tommy Paul at the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com after fighting past Soonwoo Kwon 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday.
Korda, who is currently No. 119 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, made a winning start to the season after closing 2020 on a milestone, lifting his first ATP Challenger Tour trophy in Eckental at the end of the year.
“Not only my dad [Petr Korda] but my whole team, we put in a lot of work during the break and I’m super happy with how everything is going right now,” Korda said in his on-court interview.
“Whenever I get a chance to play a big tournament like here, it’s always a privilege and I always have a smile on my face. I kind of enjoy it a little bit more because I know how tough it is to get here."
The American started out on a tear against Kwon, keeping his opponent under pressure as he reeled off back-to-back breaks of serve to take a 4-0 lead. But once the South Korea player finally got on the scoreboard, he seemed to relax and swing more freely against Korda.
Kwon stormed back as he won the next three games and was a point away from levelling the score at 4-4. But Korda stayed cool to save break point and instead served out the set after taking a 5-3 lead.
Kwon kept up the punishing pace against Korda in a tightly contested second set, which saw the first eight games go to the server. But the South Korean player blinked first, and Korda pounced on his brief dip in form to claim a crucial break at 4-4. He needed three match points before grinding through in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4.
“I think in the end I just stayed pretty positive, even though I was up a double break and he got it back to 4-3 and had a couple of break points,” Paul said. “But I played a great match and I’m super happy to be through.”
Korda’s victory set up an all-American clash against Delray Beach resident Paul, the fifth seed. Paul needed just over an hour to defeat Ji Sung Nam in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4 and make a winning start to the new season.