Korda making Washington a home away from home Czech's success continues in D.C. TENNIS

July 23, 1993|By Tara Finnegan | Tara Finnegan,Contributing Writer

WASHINGTON -- Petr Korda is making himself at home at the William H. G. FitzGerald Tennis Center.

Korda, 25, from Prague, Czech Republic, flew in from Davis Cup competition in Europe this week to defend his title at the Newsweek Tennis Classic.

Yesterday, he advanced to today's quarterfinal round by defeating Jakob Hlasek, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-3), after fighting off five set points in the first set.

"That made me feel good to win them in a match like that," said Korda, the No. 2 seed this year. "Last year here, I was down set points in the quarterfinals and semifinals, and I came back to win. It's good for confidence, that's for sure."

The Washington stop has been good for Korda, who lost in the final to Andre Agassi two years ago.

"I like Washington. I love the weather, and the stadium court here is good for me," Korda said. "People say if you survive Washington with the weather and the humidity, you're going to be OK for the rest of the summer."

On Wednesday, Korda needed three sets to get by his first-round opponent, wild-card entry Brian MacPhie.

"I always have big troubles in my first match, but most important, I always survive," said Korda, who is 11th in the IBM/ATP world rankings.

Korda had serious health troubles earlier this year. In February, he contracted a virus that caused his heart to become inflamed, and it forced him out of competition for about two weeks.

"Mentally, I was not in good shape when they told me that," Korda said.

He had to default from a tournament in Stuttgart, Germany, and a few months later, in early May, he had a relapse of the heart condition. He then had a poor showing at the French Open, where he was runner-up in 1992.

But after the French Open, Korda's electrocardiogram test was normal.

"When they told me it [the test] was perfect, I felt better," Korda said.

Korda went on to have his best Wimbledon showing, defeating Martin Strelba, Brad Gilbert and Derrick Rostagno before losing to Michael Stich in the round of 16.

Now, in Washington, he finds himself in the quarterfinals for the ,, third straight year. Even though he may not have the comfort of being at home, Korda finally is physically comfortable with his game.

"I feel perfect now," he said. "I can feel minute by minute getting better and hitting cleaner and cleaner. Hopefully, I can play well in Washington and in the U.S. Open."

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