Sebastian, Nelly and Jessica Korda Succeed in the Family Business

WIMBLEDON, England — Sebastian Korda watched from his father’s hotel room in London on Sunday night as his sister Nelly achieved a major...


WIMBLEDON, England — Sebastian Korda watched from his father’s hotel room in London on Sunday night as his sister Nelly achieved a major dream, winning the Women’s P.G.A. Championship in Atlanta. Two days later, on a different sort of green, Sebastian kept the family business booming.

The 50th-ranked Korda beat the 15th-seeded Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(5) in three hours and 25 minutes in the first round of Wimbledon on Tuesday afternoon.

“Seeing Nelly achieve what she achieved, and how emotional she was, and how much hard work and passion she puts into it every single day, it’s super inspiring,” Korda said. “Hopefully I can keep playing some good tennis and stay a little longer here.”

The successes of the Korda family are coming rapidly, but they have been building for generations. Petr, the father, won the 1998 Australian Open, one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments. Regina Rajchrtova, the mother, was a top-30 tennis player who competed for Czechoslovakia at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. In addition to Nelly, 22, winning her first major title on Sunday, sister Jessica, 28, qualified alongside her for a spot on the U.S. Olympic golf team.

Sebastian, who turns 21 next week, was playing his first match in the Wimbledon main draw, but showed little stage fright as he imposed his game and 6-foot-5 frame on de Minaur, who had won a warm-up event in Eastbourne, England, last weekend. “That’s what makes him dangerous: he hits big and plays very loose,” de Minaur said of Korda. “He’s going after it.”

Korda surged at the start of the match, breaking de Minaur in his opening service game. He had seven break points in the eighth game and could have closed out the set, but did not convert them. Rather than betray any disappointment, Korda smoothly served out the set in the next game, and then broke in the seventh game of the second set to take full control of the match.

“I could have made it go my way, but he stepped up to the plate and he delivered today,” de Minaur said. “All kudos to him.”

As much as his play impressed his opponent, Korda said that his father hadn’t held back on immediate constructive criticism after one of the biggest wins of his career. “My dad, he’s super happy, but he also sees the mistakes that I did during the match and he lets me know right away,” Korda said. “That’s probably one of the best things about my dad: He’s always pretty straightforward and he tells you how he is. He doesn’t sugarcoat it.”

Patricio Apey, who managed Petr Korda during his career and now manages his children as well, said that Petr had been guiding the careers of all three from a young age, expecting them to all peak simultaneously.

“As crazy as it sounds, Petr and I have been talking about this for like 12 years, to do these things together with the three kids,” Apey said. “I always say he’s half-genius and half-crazy, and it’s hard to differentiate between the two.”

Comparing him to Richard Williams, who boastfully — and, in the end, accurately — predicted great successes for his young daughters Venus and Serena, Apey said Petr had been able to “map out the technical side” of the developments of all three of his children with long-term planning. That planning occasionally comes with short-term sacrifices: While Sebastian’s sisters will be representing the United States at the Tokyo Olympics later this month, he will miss the competition to prepare for the U.S. Open, focusing on smaller stateside tournaments that Apey described as “lower-hanging fruit.”

A similar decision was made earlier this year, when Korda skipped Australian Open qualifying to focus on Challenger-level tournaments in France. The move paid off with a title in Quimper, France, which Sebastian said had been inspired by Jessica winning her first L.P.G.A. title of the year the weekend before.

The Olympics decision, made Sunday evening, became tougher when it was clear that both his sisters would make the trip. Wherever Petr Korda’s children are competing, he manages to sync up with them, staying up late when his daughters are on the Asian swing of the golf circuit, or waking up early when his son is in Europe.

“I have no clue how they do it,” Sebastian said of his parents. “We’re all over the place.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Sebastian, Nelly and Jessica Korda Succeed in the Family Business
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