With the special first-to-four, best-of-five set format, Korda turned around his match in an hour on Tuesday. The 21-year-old American saved a match point to battle past Frenchman Hugo Gaston 3-4(2), 3-4(6), 4-0, 4-3(3), 4-0 in two hours and three minutes.
“[I] just stayed calm and kept thinking what I could do better,” Korda said. “I did play very well tactically in the first two sets, but I figured a couple of things out during the tie-break and I think that helped me for the rest of the match.”
Korda is the second player in tournament history to rally from two sets down at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, joining Borna Coric, who accomplished the feat in round-robin action against Karen Khachanov in 2017.
Gaston held match point on Korda’s serve at 3-2 in the fourth set, but this year’s Parma champion blasted an ace down the T to erase the opportunity. The Frenchman, who reached his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final last week at the Rolex Paris Masters, was clutch under pressure for most of the match, using his variety — especially the drop shot — to great effect.
But in the fifth set, Korda broke by hitting a drop shot off a Gaston drop shot, and he did not relinquish his advantage. The American is now 1-0 in Group B action.
“I just kept going to the same spot every single time and was taking advantage of the shorter balls and coming in. On my serve I was serving in the same spot instead of opening up the court,” Korda said. “The biggest thing was I started to use my forehand down the line more.”