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PAMedia/dpa

Melbourne

Sebastian Korda retired with a wrist injury during his Australian Open clash with Karen Khachanov, sending the Russian through to a second consecutive Grand Slam semi-final.

American Korda has been one of the stories of the tournament, defeating Daniil Medvedev and Hubert Hurkacz to reach a first slam quarter-final 25 years after his father Petr lifted the trophy.

But he began to struggle half way through the second set, receiving a medical time-out, and, after losing seven games in a row, called it quits trailing 7-6 (5) 6-3 3-0.

It was a very disappointing way to bow out for the 22-year-old, who was in obvious discomfort and was reduced to chopping forehands in a vain attempt to find a way back into the match.

Having reached the last four at a slam for the first time in his 23rd major tournament at the US Open last summer, Khachanov is now back at the same stage in his next event.

“Back to back semi-finals at a slam feels great,” said the Russian.

“Obviously not the way you want to finish the match. Up until a certain point it was a great battle.” Khachanov and Korda met for the first time at a grand slam at Wimbledon in 2021, and a topsy-turvy contest went all the way to a fifth-set tie-break before the Russian edged it.

This looked set to be a close battle as well, with Korda recovering from a breakdown to force a tie-break in the opening set and then beginning the second strongly.

But he called the trainer after five games to have his right wrist taped and did not win another game.

Later, speaking at a press conference, Korda said it was an issue he originally feltat the Adelaide International, where he was beaten by Novak Djokovic in the final.

“I had it a little bit in Adelaide a couple of weeks ago, but then it went away,” he said. “During the matches, it was completely fine.

Then just one kind of mishit returnand it started to bother me a lot of after that.

“I knew what it was right away, right when I hit the return. I kind of felt that spot that I was feeling before. Some forehands I couldn’t even hold the racquet. Volleying was almost impossible for me. So it was a little tough.”

The number 29 seed was pleased with his work in Melbourne though, adding: “Obviously a lot of positives [to take]. Still a great tournament. My first quarter-final in a Grand Slam. I’m going to go forward with my head high and keep working.”

Khachanov is through to his second-consecutive Grand Slam semi-final, havingalso made the final four at last year’s US Open.

The Russian sympathized with Korda but said he was just focused on getting the job done.

“It’s part of the sport,” Khachanov said. “It was a tough competitive battle until a certain moment, but at the end of the day you don’t know how serious he’s injured, right?

“I think theend of the second set, you know, when I pushed through and then took it with 2-0 lead by sets, it’s extra pressure to the guy, if especially he has some issues physically.

“I think also the beginning of the third, you know, when you take this [3-0] lead, so from the opponent, the attitude change, it’s way tougher to come back, so I think all those things together. I was quite focused and I knew what I had to do, how I had to push. I did it really well.”

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25/01/2023
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