Damien Kayat previews the round of 16 Emilia-Romagna Open clash between Lorenzo Sonego and Seb Korda.
To Win Match
Lorenzo Sonego (9/20) | Seb Korda 17/10
26-year-old Italian Lorenzo Sonego has quietly compiled an extremely impressive 2021 season. The truth is that there have long been signs of his emergence over the past few years. In 2019, Sonego won his first ATP title in Antalya and more significantly reached his debut Masters 1000 quarterfinal in Monte-Carlo. Though he has shown some all-court prowess, many consider his best surface to be clay. This was only amplified by a 4th round run at last year’s French Open. He then shocked the world with an absolutely stunning upset win against Novak Djokovic at the Erste Bank Open. He would make the final of that event but ultimately lose to Andrey Rublev.
He has gone from strength to strength this year and he has come into his own on this surface. Firstly, he won both the singles and doubles titles at the Sardegna Open. But it was really his run at the Italian Open that has propelled him into dark-horse reckoning at this year’s French Open. He made his first Masters 1000 semi-final courtesy of some amazing performances. He picked up his 2nd and 3rd victories over top 10 players, accounting for Dominic Thiem and Andrey Rublev. He then pushed Novak Djokovic to three sets in the semi-final. Everyone seems to have solely focused on Jannik Sinner and Matteo Berrettini in the Italian tennis renaissance. Sonego has gleefully slipped under the radar and he will be tough to beat this week.
Seb Korda has enjoyed something of a rollercoaster season. Everything started out great. He reached his maiden ATP Final at the Delray Beach Classic. He also went on to win the Quimper Challenger before an excellent run to the Miami Masters quarterfinals. Korda’s season has really unravelled since the switch to clay and I found this really surprising. Korda really broke through at last year’s French Open, emerging from nowhere to reach the 4th round. The 20-year-old moves deceptively well on clay for such a tall guy.
Korda will feel slightly more confident following his opening round veteran against Italian veteran Andreas Seppi. This should be a much tougher proposition considering Sonego’s recent results. Another issue for Korda could be a groin niggle he picked up in the Seppi match. He won’t want to accentuate that ahead of the French Open. Having said that, Korda is a real talent with the capacity to dominate matches. He reminds me slightly of Denis Shapovalov in the early stages of his career.
The Verdict- Korda to Win at 17/10
This is an interesting match-up that shows the influence of power in modern tennis. Both of these guys are big servers who have found considerable success on clay. So, this isn’t exactly your conventional clay-court clash. I think that Seb Korda has the capacity to pull off a timely pre-Roland Garros upset. He has big-match temperament that can override recent form.