Tennis: Korda blows away Rios in 85 minutes

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The Independent Online
Petr Korda beat Marcelo Rios in straight sets in the Australian Open men's final in Melbourne yesterday to win his first Grand Slam tennis title at the age of 30. The Czech veteran beat the Chilean ninth seed 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 in one of the most one-sided Grand Slam finals in history. At 85 minutes, it was a minute faster than Martina Hingis two-set win in Saturday's women's final.

Korda, who turned professional in 1987, was beaten in the 1992 French Open final, but stayed in the top 10 until injury nearly made him quit in 1995. He made a full return last year.

On the eve of the final, he was so nervous he could not eat. But Korda played some of his best tennis of the tournament on the day. Rios played some of his worst. The 22-year-old Chilean won his first service game without losing a point. Then his game collapsed.

Rios lost seven service games, was unable to move to Korda's shots and committed 31 unforced errors. Rios lost seven games in a row from 2-2 in the second set to being 3-0 down in the third. The Chilean served to save the match at 5-2 down in the third set, but Korda took it with a forehand crosscourt winner on his second match point.

Korda said: "Maybe I made a few errors, but I was the one who was dominating. Really I just felt I had the match in my hands. I didn't look at the other side of the court. I was concentrating on my game, moving my legs, hitting the ball as best I could. That was my strategy. I didn't care who was on the other side of the court."

Korda moves to No 2 in the world rankings. Rios advances to No 5. Rios was the first Chilean to play in a Grand Slam final since Luis Ayala lost to Nicola Pietrangeli in the 1960 French Open final. He said: "I was not nervous, maybe I was excited at playing, at going on centre court and trying to win. It's been a great week for me to get to the final and you are always disappointed when you lose, but that's how sport goes."

Korda said his win would not change his plans to consider retiring at the end of 1998. He said: "I will sit down with my family and with my coach and we will see what happens. There is a chance I will be back in 1999."

Earlier, Venus Williams and Justin Gimelstob of the United States beat the Czech brother and sister combination of Cyril Suk and Helena Sukova 6-2, 6-1 in the mixed doubles final. It was the first major title for 17-year-old Williams.