Absolutely unprecedented & incredible story: Korda not only won two marathon five set matches within a weekend to get the biggest prize money at the time ($1,625,000), he managed to do that against two best players in the world being on verge of defeat on both occasions – saved 5 match points in the semifinal vs Pete Sampras, and 5 mini-match points vs Stich in the final – winning fewer points than losing against both serve-and-volleyers, 10 & 13 respectively; moreover a day before defeating Sampras, he trailed *2:4 in the deciding set against the fourth best player in the world – Sergi Bruguera!!!
“I woke up optimistic because I felt fitter than expected. I wasn’t feeling great, but not that bad either.” said Korda referring to his struggle against Sampras, in which both players suffered cramps at the end…
Stich was also tired though, he had very demanding finish of the season, and played a 5-set semifinal too (nevertheless much more quicker). There was a weird period between 3:1* for Korda in the 2nd set & 1-all in the 3rd when the spectators witnessed 6 breaks of serve in 8 games! Stich had a set point at 6:5 but missed his backhand return. Korda led *5:3 in the decider, to be broken at ‘love’. The German, serving to stay in the match in the following game, faced two match points. A backhand error by Korda off the 2nd serve saved the first, a FH-volley that clipped the net and fell into Korda’s half saved the second. Stich won the game with an ace. In the 13th game (6-all), the Czech player saved four break points (including 0/40) – ace, two unreturned serves (Stich tried dropshot off his backhand return on the third occasion!) & backhand error. Korda withstood another mini-match point in the 15th game (7-all) with a FH-stretch-volley – Stich acknowledged that shot. Korda’s third match point came when he smashed down a volley-lob attempt by Stich, who led 40/15 to lose the last four points of the final – as Korda’s backhand return on Stich’s second serve was placed in the corner. “My father told me to be a good fighter on the court, never to give up and that’s what I did,” Korda stated.
Korda’s epic route to his 6th title:
1 Alexander Volkov 6-2, 6-3
Q Sergi Bruguera 4-6, 6-0, 6-4
S Pete Sampras 3-6, 7-6(3), 3-6, 7-6(10), 13-11… 5 MPs
W Michael Stich 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(5), 2-6, 11-9… 5 mini-MPs
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