The World No. 38 found a little extra at key moments at the ATP Masters 1000 event to secure a 6-3, 6-4 first-round victory and set a second-round clash with Rafael Nadal. With the win, Korda backed up his straight-sets triumph over Kokkinakis in the pair’s only previous meeting in the Delray Beach quarter-finals in February.
“It was a great win,” said the American after the match. “I think in all my years of playing here at Indian Wells, since I was 12 years old, I’ve never played at night. So it was a new experience for me, I’m super happy with the way I played and just a great match overall.
“I just stuck with the tactics that I brought into Delray, and they worked really well tonight.”
The accomplished performance continues a solid start to 2022 for Korda, who enjoyed a stellar 2021 season in which he notched a personal-best 31 wins, secured his first ATP Tour title in Parma and reached the championship match of the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals.
In Kokkinakis he came up against an opponent riding a wave of his own. The Australian lifted his first tour-level trophy at the Adelaide International 2 in January, but he could not find the form that inspired him to the title in his hometown as his American opponent progressed in California.
Both players struggled on serve early on in blustery conditions, but it was Korda who edged ahead as he broke three times to secure the first set.
The level increased in a tighter second set as both players began to acclimatise to the wind, and there were no break chances until Korda made a decisive move in the ninth game by breaking to love. The American held his nerve to save two break points before converting his first match point and improve his overall record at ATP Masters 1000 events to 8-5.
Korda’s shot-making was more consistent throughout. According to Infosys ATP Stats, the American struck 22 winners to his opponent’s 12 and was also effective at the net, winning 67 per cent (14/21) points coming forward as he secured victory in 89 minutes.
The #NextGenATP American can now look forward to a second-round clash with 21-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal. Korda won just four games across three sets in the pair’s first meeting at Roland Garros in 2020.
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