A star was born at tea-time on Centre Court as Sebastian Korda, in his first Wimbledon outing, used the inspiration of a sporting dynasty to overcome home favourite Dan Evans, who admitted he “didn’t turn up” and “didn’t play as well as I could have”.
Despite the American only turning 21 this Monday, he continued the recent spate of Korda success, with this latest achievement in reaching the fourth round for the first time following the feat of sister Nelly – the women’s golf world No 1 who clinched her first major at the US PGA Championship last weekend.
Evans, who at 31 was desperate to make the last 16 of the Championships for the first time, could not gain a stranglehold on the game and seemed to lack the big match mindset as much as the big shots. This is the third time he has fallen at this point in SW19.
“It’s more disappointment than anything really right now. It was a good chance to have a decent run. It’s difficult,” said a dejected Evans after the loss. “I didn’t think I played a good match.”
“It’s disappointing really. It was an amazing court to play on but I didn’t get my game on the court. All credit to him, he played some strong tennis. He’s obviously going to be a very good player. It was not a great day.”
Despite the presence of the Duchess of Cambridge for the opening set, the atmosphere on Centre Court failed to create the same sort of partisan electricity that Andy Murray has enjoyed this week. With a lacklustre crowd one couldn’t help but think that three other Royal Box guests in the shape of fitness gurus Joe Wicks, Rangideer ‘the Skipping Sikh’ Kaur and the aptly named Derrick Evans (better known as Mr Motivator) – all invited to the All England Club for their effort in keeping Britons fit during the lockdowns – could have been deployed to liven up the mood.
Despite this Evans praised the atmosphere and batted away any suggestions that playing on Centre Court had caused him to feel more expectation and led to Korda taking control. “I’m massively appreciative of the Club for putting me on Centre. I didn’t feel any more pressure because I was playing there,” he said. “He probably was a bit more aggressive than me. That was the difference.”
Korda, who despite his Czech parents’ tennis pedigree – Petr, the 1988 Australian Open winner and mother Regina who was ranked in the top 100 during her career – was exposed to a variety of sports growing up in Florida and grew up a keen ice hockey player before settling on tennis. He has been mentored by family friend Andre Agassi and showed his ability as all-round athlete from early on.
At 6 ft 5 in, he towered over the 5 ft 9 in Evans. Although the Englishman tried his best in the first set to use Korda’s height against him by flooding low balls over the net, Korda remained undeterred.
If anything, it seemed to give the youngster more fire and as well as his big serve – likely to become even more powerful as he comes of age – his on-court charisma was also visible as he quickly grew into the first set. After initially swapping games until they were 3-3, Korda pulled away with ease, taking the opening salvo 6-3 despite Evans’ best efforts. He had the set wrapped up after just 28 minutes.
Korda explained that he developed his unflappable demeanour thanks to his mother when Petr was away acting as caddy for eldest sister Jessica, now 28 on the LPGA tour. “From when I was 12 years old till about 15, I was basically raised by my mom and Nelly. My mom was super big on always having a poker face, never showing your opponent what you’re feeling.
“I used that pretty well today. I have her to thank because she’s taught me so much. I was just always staying calm.”
In the second set Evans grew in momentum as his backhand – which had wobbled at times – became more steady and with that, more shouts of “Come on Dan!” began to ring around Centre Court. The British No 1 duly responded by taking the set to level the match.
With so much on the line for both players, the third set was a more cagey affair and Evans finally obtained his Wimbledon roar. The seventh game was pivotal if the Birmingham man was to stake his claim in the match.
But a break from Korda soon had him 4-2 up and, despite Evans displaying his grit to capitalise on the first major error of the match from Korda when he inexplicably pulled his backhand off target, the American responded in kind to close out the set 6-4.
Despite Evans’ best efforts in energy-sapping rallies in the fourth set, he could not capitalise after going 3-2 up and Korda, buoyed by youthful enthusiasm and his big serve, closed the set out 6-4 to head into the second week where he will take on 25th-seed Karen Khachanov for a place in the quarter-finals.
Attention turns to Andy Murray…
The ending of that match means one thing… it’s time for the third installment of Andy Murray at this year’s Wimbledon and a return to the rollercoaster that he likes to take us on. You can follow his match against Denis Shapovalov here.
An early birthday present
The 20-year-old turns 21 on Monday, when he will return to court to play his fourth round match. This is his first ever Wimbledon, don’t forget. A new star definitely emerging here at SW19.
As for Evans, a disappointing day for him, as he again misses out on the fourth round at Wimbledon. He would have expected to much better.
How was that for a first appearance on Centre Court?
Not bad, he replies…
I just stayed calm on the points as much as I could, I just tried to play attacking tennis and I’m really proud of myself.
A year ago I was 220 in the world and now I’m in the fourth round of Wimbledon, it’s incredible. I have my family to thank.
How much is your family an inspiration?
My dad won a Grand Slam, my sister just won her first major and is world number one in golf. It’s super inspiring and crazy.
The dream continues
KORDA BEATS EVANS 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 4-6
The radar on Korda’s backhand is off as he goes for a winner. And that, you have to say, is even worse! Looks away now Korda fans! The ball falls from the sky, the American only has to smash it from the mid court and he flings it into the net for 0-30.
An ace rescue him and then the backhand is on the money this time down the left channel. 30-30. Another ace brings up match point Korda.
No mistake from the smash that time and Korda wins!!!
Evans 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 4-5 Korda* (*denotes next server)
Korda, filled with confidence, brings out a deft dropshot for 15-15. Evans is scampering, left to right, right to left, but Korda is the puppet master and the Brit eventually goes long after a 14-shot rally. Korda tries another dropshot but it doesn’t have enough on it. Back to 30-30 on the Evans serve.
Another double fault by Evans, his fourth of the match, and it is break point Korda. The over the shoulder smash is not clinical enough from Evans, Korda defends and then the Brit goes long.
Korda breaks and the wheels, if not completely off the Evans wagon, are very much loose. Korda will serve for the match.
Evans* 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 4-4 Korda (*denotes next server)
Blink and you miss it, that game. Korda holds to love and is two games away from the fourth round of Wimbledon. Where is Evans’ head at now?
Evans 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 4-3 Korda* (*denotes next server)
This match has more twists and turns than an Agatha Christie crime novel. Unbelievably, Evans, fresh from breaking his opponent, falls 0-40 down and hands Korda three break points.
The American’s return is long on the first, the second also fails to find the target as Evans goes big on serve. Oh but there it is, Korda breaks. Evans chastises himself as he sits back down.
Evans* 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 4-2 Korda (*denotes next server)
From an 80mph-plus forehand winner on one shot to being caught out by the ball clipping the line on the next, it’s topsy-turvy from Korda. 30-15 up and he does everything right, apart from the last – and most important – bit, clipping into the net. Big moment for Korda….
Oh no! Korda slips over on the right corner of the court and Evans will never have an easy point. Break point Evans. And finally he does get it when Korda goes long.
I mentioned Mr Motivator was in the centre court crowd early, turns out he isn’t the only exercise guru around, as our reporter Kate points out.
Evans 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 3-2 Korda* (*denotes next server)
There’s a nervousness to the crowd here, not quite sure which way this is heading. Groans as Evans finds himself in a spot of bother at 30-40 and break point Korda. Evans’ forehand skips up off the tape but Korda was still well positioned to win that, before instead flinging it wide.
Korda into the net before a bold attempted winner down the line goes wide. Evans hanging in there and we stay on serve.
Evans* 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 2-2 Korda (*denotes next server)
Another mishit from Korda before Evans toys with his opponent and then ties him up in knots with the low returns.
The American returns in kind by moving the Brit out wide to manoeuvre himself some space for 30-15 and then works himself into position for the inside out dropshot, but no! The execution is all wrong. Two break points Evans.
The first is saved before a serve down the line checks on the line and catches out Evans. Another first serve gives Korda advantage. He plants his feet and then sends a forehand winner down the line. A battling effort from the American.
Evans* 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 2-1 Korda (*denotes next server)
Evans skips across the byline having moved 30-0 up. Is this a sign of a slight problem from Korda, who is rubbing his leg? He can still hit a mighty fine forehand winner even if he is troubled. The next one goes long and Evans is 40-15 up.
It’s a tired backhand that hits the net by Korda. A first sign of fatigue from the 20-year-old from Florida?
Evans* 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 1-1 Korda (*denotes next server)
Ah the energy of youth! Korda is off court but hits a return around the post, and even manages to scamper back onto court and almost hit a winner. A service error on the next before a slip on the baseline for Evans allows Korda to find the open court. Evans slices into the net for 30-30 and then promptly stares hard at his box. His mood is not soothed when an attempted forehand winner down the line skips wide. Korda wraps up the game.
Evans 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 1-0 Korda* (*denotes next server)
Every time one player has threatened to grab this match by the scruff of its neck, then they’ve stumbled. The frustration is plain to see on Evans face, as he holds serve to open the fourth set. But it’s not pretty, and he has to dig it out.
KORDA WINS THIRD SET Evans 3-6, 6-3, 3-6 Korda
Well if Evans wants to reach the second week of Wimbledon for the first time in his career, he’s going to have to do it the hard way. Korda does the business and holds serve to take a two sets to one lead.
Evans 3-6, 6-3, 3-5 Korda*(*denotes next server)
Evans, in the spirit of Andy Murray, is chattering away to his box. Korda finds the baseline on his shot, which Evans is not happy about. He replies with a serve out wide which sets him up for a winner into the open court at 30-30 but more problems on serve hands Korda a break point.
And unlike the last game, Korda needs only one. A terribly messy and unwanted game from Evans. Korda will serve for the third set.
Evans 3-6, 6-3, 3-4 Korda* (*denotes next server)
We’re onto a fourth break point for Evans, after Korda inexplicably pulls his backhand off target. And Korda coughs up another mistake, finding the net yet again. Evans breaks and we’re back on serve.
That is probably the first major wobble of the match from Korda.
Evans 3-6, 6-3, 2-4 Korda* (*denotes next server)
Applause rings out around centre court. It’s for a sublime backhand sliced winner from Evans. And much needed shot of confidence with it. 30-0 to the Brit. Korda forces an error out of his opponent in reply before a flurry of baseline shots is ended when Korda opted for the drop shot and Evans could only tumble over trying to reach it. Korda blinks with his backhand. Break point Evans. Korda smashes away but then on advantage sends his volley wide. Back all square.
It’s careless from the American as he sprays his forehand wide of the line. Second break point Evans. But a big first serve digs the American out. Volleyed winner. And then into the net with the game there for the taking. Another netted effort brings up third break point Evans. And saved again by Korda, with a passing shot off the backhand. But he can’t win on the advantage. Does no one want to win this game???
Evans 3-6, 6-3, 2-4 Korda* (*denotes next server)
Right then, trying to concentrate on the tennis and not the unwelcome company I currently have.
105mph serve out wide from Evans but his subsequent volley attempt just disintegrates into the net. Ouch, a laboured double fault and then a careless shot long. Three break points Korda. Where did that come from?
Cross court backhand winner from Korda is initially called out but the umpire overrules immediately! There was chalk fly up, look at the chalk! Korda breaks
Evans* 3-6, 6-3, 2-3 Korda (*denotes next server)
Korda has regained his composure after losing that second set and holds to love.
I’m getting stressed now, but it’s not for this match but the rather large, noisy bee that has flown into my room and can’t work out how to get back out again.
Evans 3-6, 6-3, 2-2 Korda* (*denotes next server)
Unlike the first set, the Evans serve is functioning a lot better, with Korda struggling now to pick it. An easy hold.
Meanwhile, a certain Mr Motivator is sat in the royal box today. Gone bold with his choice of attire too.
Evans* 3-6, 6-3, 1-2 Korda (*denotes next server)
Time to bring out the slip klaxon again. This time it is Evans who is backtracking and his feet fly out from under him on the baseline.. Fortunately he’s okay, a quick shake of the head and good to go again.
A solid hold for Korda, who finally gets a bit of luck off the net cord.
Evans 3-6, 6-3, 1-1 Korda* (*denotes next server)
A touch of hesitation from Korda as he elects to stay on the baseline rather than come in and Evans pounces. The American then gets no assistance from the net cord again.
Korda does come in on that one, but his composure doesn’t follow suit as he drops his sliced backhand into the net.
Evans* 3-6, 6-3, 0-1 Korda (*denotes next server)
As much as SW19 newbie Korda is in unchartered territory, it’s worth remembering that Evans has never reached the fourth round of Wimbledon in his career, so there’s plenty at stake for him today too.
An untroubled service game from Korda gets us underway as the clock ticks into a second hour.
EVANS TAKES SECOND SET Evans 3-6, 6-3 Korda
I thought Evans had dug himself into a bit of a hole on that long rally there, but he finally brings the traded groundstrokes to a close with a subline backhanded dropshot. Another point brings up three set points.
The first is netted before a serve out wide wraps things up.
Evans has steadied the ship, now can he guide it over the finish line?
Evans 3-6, 5-3 Korda* (*denotes next server)
The players are strutting their stuff with shiny new balls. Evans, it appears, prefers the old ones as he quickly finds himself 0-30 down. Korda, meanwhile, powers an ace down the middle. Oh, but he then serve-volleys straight into the net.
He gets the next one though, pulling Evans this way and that before coming into the net and closing the game out. Evans will serve for the set.
Evans 3-6, 5-2 Korda* (*denotes next server)
Evans has his tail up as he pulls out a backhand cross court smash on the first point. Backhand error from Korda and then he dumps into the tramlines on the next. It’s very quickly 40-0 to Evans.
Oh Dan! The Battle of the Slice ends with Evans on the losing side.
But that’s much more clinical, a forehand winner down the line. Momentum shifted.
Evans* 3-6, 4-2 Korda (*denotes next server)
Here’s a telling stat. Evans, normally so strong on his serve, is managing just 47% first serves while Korda is up at 69%. That’s better from Evans. You’ve got to ask the question of your opponent. And three times Korda blinks on the backhand. Three breaks points.
A beautiful backhand winner saves one, before Evans tries to pass Korda at the net but can’t quite make it. But that will do, as Korda goes wide. Evans breaks.
Evans 3-6, 3-2 Korda* (*denotes next server)
Some wobbles from both side here suddenly as Evans does all the hard work and then volleys into the net. Two errors off the Korda backhand and Evans is once again trying to gee himself up. He’s just too passive at the moment and Korda is dictating court position. A strong serve out wide makes it 40-30 but Korda then sweeps up at the net with another aggressive play.
Nervous smiles as he sits down soon after having dug himself out of that one.
Evans* 3-6, 2-2 Korda (*denotes next server)
The Wimbledon crowd not getting much to cheer so far, only polite applause so far, mainly for Korda. He’s moving his feet so well, and not giving Evans much of a look in on his serve.
It’s 40-15 but oh wow, would you believe that? Korda has just done a complete air shot on his forehand in the mid court. If this was cricket he would be clean bowled. A cute lob from Evans has suddenly got us to deuce.
But Korda recovers his composure, wins the next and then seals things on an ace.
Evans 3-6, 2-1 Korda* (*denotes next server)
Evans is certainly not functioning in top gear currently. He tries to gee himself up with a c’mon. Korda replies with a sliced backhand winner before Evans draws level at 30-30 with a serve and volley tactic. There’s another two ‘c’mon’s when Korda goes long with two consecutive returns.
Evans* 3-6, 1-1 Korda (*denotes next server)
You have to admire the composure of Korda, born in 2000 and making his centre court debut like he’s playing on his local court. He wraps up a comfortable hold with an ace.
Evans 3-6, 1-0 Korda* (*denotes next server)
It’s a good response by Evans, well the best possible one really. A hold to love. Although that was how he started the first set.
KORDA WINS FIRST SET – No nerves from the Wimbledon debutant
Well, well, well. It had started to comfortably for Evans but one slip and Korda was straight in, much to the appreciation of his father, the former Australian Open champion and French Open runner-up Petr.
What can the British No 1 return with? 28 minutes for that first set, Andy Murray might want to start thinking about his warm up….
Evans 3-6 Korda (*denotes next server)
Not the start the Korda camp would have wanted…a double fault. And then Lady Luck sides with Evans, as his forehand clips the net cord and drops over the wrong side for Korda.
That’s better, Evans is scrambling along the baseline and Korda goes back inside him with a forehand before volleying another winner. We’re all square at 30-30. Another error from the Evans racket and it’s set point Korda.
And he only needs the one, confirming it on a confident smash.
Evans 3-5 Korda* (*denotes next server)
A rare point against the Evans serve as Korda lets rip up the line with his forehand. More pressure as Korda hits the far tramline with his return off an Evans second serve and the Brit slices into the net. Evans serve is suddenly malfunctioning here, and Korda pounces, returning before coming in and deftly volleying a winner. Three break points.
The first is saved but not the second when Evans goes long. Korda will serve for the opening set.
Evans* 3-4 Korda (*denotes next server)
By far the longest rally of the match brings a roar from Evans as Korda dumps into the net for 30-0 to the Brit. Almost another point, as Korda smashes straight at Evans who gets it back but the American has the whole of the court to aim for next. Serve-volley combo takes us to 30-30 and then two strong first-serves wraps up the game.
A slight glimmer there for Evans but the door was swiftly shut by the American, who is showing few nerves on his centre court debut.
Evans 3-3 Korda* (*denotes next server)
Korda is really struggling to pick Evans’ serve here, and can’t get the range right as another return flies long for 0-30. Another error, this time sliced straight into the net. Evans wraps things up with another hold to love.
Evans* 2-3 Korda (*denotes next server)
Korda, sporting an alice band which is actually causing his hair to stick up, opens with an ace. He follows it with some solid groundstrokes and is quickly 40-0 up. Here’s a longer rally, finally, and Korda is the orchestrator, taking Evans out wide and then hitting into the open court.
Bit of a pattern here, quick-fire and nobody really laying a glove on their opponent yet.
Evans 2-2 Korda* (*denotes next server)
Slip klaxon. It’s Korda who momentarily loses his footing first on the right-hand side, he recovers to stay in the rally but sends his return wide of the tramlines. Another goes long before Evans booms a serve straight down the middle and Korda can only get his racket rim to hit.
Another big serve and Evans looks to back it up with a volley but he doesn’t need to as Korda flings his effort long. All square.
Evans* 1-2 Korda (*denotes next server)
Blink and you miss it so far. The American replies with his own hold to love and we’ve already wrapped up three games inside six minutes.
Evans 1-1 Korda* (*denotes next server)
It’s an even more impressive start from Evans. Two booming serves gets him into the game before he brings out the one-handed backhand to flick the ball up the tramline.
Korda tries to go for a cross-court winner on the next but he sprays it wide and Evans holds to love.
Evans* 0-1 Korda (*denotes next server)
A fairly easy hold for the youngster from the Sates who loosens up with a couple of aces and some solid net work.
The players have finished their warm ups, the roof is open (take note Murray) and we’re almost ready
Heading for the unknown
Good afternoon and welcome to a match that sees British men’s No 1 Dan Evans heading for unchartered waters. Win today and he will reach the fourth round of Wimbledon for the first time in his career. He faces the talented Seb Korda on Centre Court shortly.
Evans made it to the third round in 2016 and then again in 2019, where he had a painful five-set loss to Joao Sousa that robbed of him a meeting with Rafael Nadal.
After dispatching Croatian Dusan Lajovic 6-3 6-3 6-4 earlier in the week, he gets another crack at making the second week at SW19.
The 31-year-old has had plenty of time on the grass courts leading into this tournament and he will never get a better chance to make it to the fourth round, especially as he thinks there is more to come.
“I don’t think I played particularly amazing tennis today, but I got through the match with decent concentration,” he said after beating Lajovic. “I found my tennis when I needed to the longer the match went on. I knew what I had to do, and that was get myself through the match however I played, give myself another good chance in the third round. It’s not all about playing perfect tennis all the time.
“As I said, I’ve not played my best tennis just yet, so hopefully that’s coming. I’m working hard. I’m trying to focus hard on finding it. Hopefully in the third round I play a bit cleaner out there, serve a little better.
“I’m competing hard and staying focused, which is part of, a big part of the battle really out there is to stay in the match, especially three-out-of-five sets.”
If Evans is trying to break new ground then his opponent Korda is well and truly gaining new experiences. The American is playing at Wimbledon for the first time, and has already won two matches which will improve his career-high ranking of 50.
Today will also be the first time he has played on Wimbledon’s Centre Court but so far the 20-year-old, who is the son of former Australian Open champion and French Open runner-up Petr, has dropped only one set in two matches so far, in his first-round upset of Eastbourne winner and 15th seed Alex de Minaur.