Korda, Kenin named Team USA
Players of the Month - January
Pat Mitsch | February 3, 2021
Anyone needing inspiration to keep to their New Year’s resolutions might do well to pay attention to Sebastian Korda, the 20-year-old American whose dream start to 2021 earned him the first Team USA Men’s Player of the Month honors in the new year.
Korda went 9-1 in singles matches in January, reaching his first ATP Final at the 250 event in Delray Beach and tearing through the field to win an ATP Challenger 100 title in Quimper, France. The 2018 Australian Open boys’ champion entered January ranked No. 119 and left it ranked No. 88, making him the youngest American to make his Top 100 debut since Frances Tiafoe five years ago.
"He’s definitely matured a lot, and now there’s a certain sense of calmness to him out on the court," Dean Goldfine, who is part of Korda's coaching team, told USTA.com. ADVERTISEMENT "When you’re winning a lot of matches, that really helps you to get to that point.
"A great example of that is the first round of his last tournament in Quimper," the USTA Player Development men's national coach continued. "He didn’t play great, was down 5-1 in the third-set breaker, and came back to win. To me, that’s just a product of believing and continuing to compete, which he does a great job of. He’s a gamer—he’s going to do his best to figure it out even if he’s not playing his best tennis. That’s the sign of champion."
Sofia Kenin, meanwhile, earned Team USA Women’s Player of the Month honors by starting the 2021 season with a run to the quarterfinals at the WTA comeback event in Abu Dhabi, her first event since reaching the title match at Roland Garros last fall. Kenin remains the top-ranked American at her career-high No. 4 heading into the lead-up for the Australian Open, where she won her maiden major singles championship last year.
Other pro highlights turned in by Americans on tour to kick off 2021:
- Christian Harrison also made headlines in Delray Beach, qualifying and reaching the semifinals for his first ATP main-draw wins since Newport in 2018. The 26-year old who has endured eight surgeries throughout his pro career rose from No. 789 to No. 345.
- Former US Open girls’ champion Grace Min reached the singles final at the USTA Pro Circuit W60 in Rome, Ga. The career-high No. 97 has won at least one ITF pro singles title in each of the last seven years. Former University of Michigan star Emina Bektas won the doubles title in Rome.
- Cornell senior Alafia Ayeni and former collegian Roy Smith (Baylor) won a doubles title at an ITF M15-level event in Bressuire, France; Anastasia Nefedova won a W15-level doubles title in Cairo, Egypt.