Russian star into Australian Open semifinals after US rival withdraws


Karen Khachanov is into the last four in Melbourne after Sebastian Korda retired in their quarterfinal

Russia’s Karen Khachanov has booked a spot in the Australian Open semifinals for the first time in his career after American opponent Sebastian Korda retired with injury in the third set of their match in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Khachanov was leading the quarterfinal after taking the opening two sets 7-6 (7-5) 6-3, and was 3-0 ahead in the third set when Korda could no longer continue due to an issue with his right wrist. The American, who had received medical treatment during the second set, was forced to withdraw with Khachanov already well on his way to victory at Rod Laver Arena.

The Russian 18th seed has now reached consecutive Grand Slam semifinals after his appearance at the same stage of the US Open in September. He will next face the winner of the quarterfinal between Greek third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and unseeded Pole Jiri Lehecka, who play later on Tuesday.

It was a disappointing end to the Australian Open for the 22-year-old Korda, who is the son of former tournament winner Petr Korda. Seeded 29th in Melbourne, Korda has enjoyed a career-best run at a Grand Slam and saw off Russian former two-time finalist Daniil Medvedev in the third round and then beat Polish 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz.

Korda was unable to continue at Rod Laver Arena.

©  Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

Khachanov, 26, will meanwhile attempt to reach a Grand Slam final for the first time after becoming just the 50th man in the Open Era to reach the quarterfinal stage of each of the four majors on the tennis calendar.

“Back-to-back semi-finals in a Grand Slam feels great,” Khachanov said on court after his win. “Obviously not the way you want to finish the match. I think until a certain point it was very competitive, a very good battle…

“Sebastian beat one of my friends, Daniil [Medvedev], in three sets and won in five sets against Hurkacz. He is playing great tennis… I’m feeling good, to be honest. I’m really happy about my level, about the way I compete, and looking forward to the semifinals here in Australia for the first time.”

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Hoping to join Khachanov in the last four is compatriot Andrey Rublev, who emerged from an epic five-set match with Denmark’s Holger Rune on Monday. Rublev, who is seeded fifth, faces the formidable challenge of nine-time tournament winner Novak Djokovic in their quarterfinal on Wednesday.

Number four seed Djokovic demolished local hero Alex de Minaur in straight sets on Monday, producing one of his best performances of the year and laying down a statement of intent after previously being hindered by a hamstring injury in Melbourne.

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