MELBOURNE, Australia – For a full set, Karen Khachanov’s Australian Open quarterfinal against Sebastian Korda on Tuesday was as tight as it gets. Until that point when Khachanov unleashed a down-the-line backhand to earn a 17-shot run and steal a tiebreak.
Khachanov raised his right index finger to his ear and told the Rod Laver Arena crowd to give him some support, then waved that finger in a “No. 1!” gesture. Not long after, early in the second set, Korda, a 22-year-old American whose father Petr was the 1998 Australian champion, felt pain in his right wrist when he mishit a forehand service return. He called a trainer to investigate and record.
And it was all over early in the third, as Korda retired from playing trailing 7-6(5), 6-3, 3-0, giving Khachanov his first semi-final at Melbourne Park – and his second consecutive trip to the last four at a Grand Slam tournament, following his run at the US Open last September.
Soon, Khachanov did a winner’s interview on court and told the spectators to applaud his injured opponent, as Korda walked to the locker room, a red bag of gear over his left shoulder and a gruff look on his face.
“I’ve reinvented myself a bit, I’d say. I’ve always believed in myself, but there are always ups and downs,” said Khachanov, a 26-year-old Russian who is ranked No. 18 in Australia. you have this great result, it just shows what you are capable of and you start to believe in it more and more.”
Korda’s wrist first took pain during a adjustment tournament in Adelaide earlier this month, but he said things seemed to be going well for the past two weeks until Tuesday.
“I kind of felt that spot that I felt before,” Korda said. “Some forehands, I couldn’t even hold the racket. Volleying was almost impossible for me. So it was a bit difficult.”
Khachanov will face No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece or unseeded Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic for a spot in the men’s final. Tsitsipas and Lehecka were scheduled to play their quarterfinals on Tuesday night.
Seeded 29th, Korda upset 2021 US Open champion and two-time Australian Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev in the third round, then moved past No. 10 Hubert Hurkacz in five sets in the fourth round.
The younger Korda was one of three American men in their 20s to reach the quarterfinals this time, the most for the country at the Australian Open since 2000. The other two, Ben Shelton and Tommy Paul, will meet for a spot in the semifinals on Wednesday.
None of the three had ever reached the last eight of a major tournament.
“There are a lot of positives. I mean, a lot more positives than even negatives. Today was tough, but hopefully it’s nothing serious and I can make sure I don’t have it in the future,” Korda said, referring to his wrist “I’m moving forward with my head up and keep working.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.