Korda and Lehecka continue fine form to reach Australian Open quarter-finals

American outlasts 10th seed Hurkacz over five sets while Czech stuns sixth seed Auger-Aliassime in four

Sebastian Korda celebrates his fourth round win over Hubert Hurkacz at the 2023 Australian Open. EPA
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Sebastian Korda continued his impressive start to the season by reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian Open after an epic five-set battle with Hubert Hurkacz on Sunday.

Korda, who narrowly lost the Adelaide International final to Novak Djokovic, thrashed last year's finalist Daniil Medvedev in the third round at Melbourne Park and followed that up with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 victory over 10th seed Hurkacz inside Rod Laver Arena.

The American, whose father Petr won the Australian Open in 1998, will play Russia's Karen Khachanov for a place in the semi-finals after the 18th seed crushed Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka 6-0, 6-0, 7-6.

"Awesome, I couldn't have done it without (the crowd), they pushed me through," Korda, 22, said. "I wasn't feeling too much energy towards the fourth and the fifth but they picked me up.

"I just tried to stay as calm as I possibly could. It was a late night match before (against Medvedev) but today was daytime and different conditions. But I'm very happy, the outcome's good."

Defeat was a bitter pill for Hurkacz, who was aiming to become the first Polish man to reach the Melbourne Park quarter-finals.

He took immediate charge on a hot day to break and race through the opening set, but Korda woke up and hauled himself back into the contest, improving his first serve percentage while cutting down on unforced errors.

Korda then worked a break to move 3-2 clear and held on to take the second set.

With Hurkacz on the back foot, the American kept the pressure on and raced into a 4-0 lead in set three, but lost his focus as the fourth set got underway.

The Pole won five games in a row to take the set to a decider, where they went toe-to-toe until the drama-filled tiebreak.

Lehecka stuns Auger-Aliassime

On Margaret Court Arena, Jiri Lehecka stunned Felix Auger-Aliassime to surge into the quarter-finals in only his fifth Grand Slam appearance.

The 21-year-old Czech was knocked out in the first round at the four majors last year but was too hot for the sixth-seeded Canadian, winning 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 7-6.

It was his first ever victory over a top-10 player and built on his wins over Masters 1000 champions Borna Coric and Cameron Norrie in earlier rounds.

"Honestly, it feels amazing," said Lehecka, who has climbed 70 places in the rankings over the past year to 71. "It's tough to find the words because what I've been through in the last year and now coming back to Australia.

"After losing in the first round last year, if someone had told me before the tournament that I would be playing like this, I wouldn't have believed them. I'm super happy and excited."

Lehecka will play the winner of a blockbuster evening clash between Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas and dangerous Italian 15th seed Jannik Sinner.

Updated: January 22, 2023, 8:35 AM
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