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TENNIS GRAND SLAM CUP : Korda Outlasts Stich in Fifth Set for His Biggest Payday

From Associated Press

Petr Korda hit the jackpot with his first tournament victory of the season.

One day after upsetting top-ranked Pete Sampras, Korda outlasted No. 2 Michael Stich in five sets Sunday to win the Grand Slam Cup and tennis’ richest prize of $1,625,000.

“I was playing tennis all night in my mind, I was dreaming of my match against Sampras,” Korda said after his 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 2-6, 11-9 victory over Stich. “I woke up optimistic because I felt fitter than expected. I wasn’t feeling great, but not that bad either.”

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The $6-million tournament is the richest in the world, and it was Korda’s most profitable week.

Not even 30 aces could save Stich, the defending champion who managed to fight off two match points before losing. Stich has had a busy month, though. He won the ATP Tour Championship and led his country to the Davis Cup championship over Australia.

Stich breezed through the first set. Korda, ranked 12th, was two breaks and 5-2 up in the second, but dropped his serve and allowed Stich to battle back within one game. The Czech still managed to win the set.

“I gave the second set away,” said Stich, who earned $812,500.

Stich, serving to stay in the match in the fifth set, faced two match points at 4-5. A volley error by Korda saved the first, a 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, Korda saved four break points, with Stich hitting unforced errors on three of them. Korda saved another in the 15th game. Korda’s third match point came when he smashed down a lob attempt by Stich. His backhand return on Stich’s second serve was good for the sixth title of his career in 3 hours 48 minutes.

“My father told me to be a good fighter on the court, never to give up and that’s what I did,” Korda said.


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