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Korda beats Cecchinato in Parma to claim 1st ATP title

BMW Open - Day 4

MUNICH, GERMANY - APRIL 27: Sebastian Korda of USA reacts during his 1st round match against Daniel Elah Galan of Columbia on day 4 of the BMW Open at MTTC IPHITOS on April 27, 2021 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

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PARMA, Italy -- Sebastian Korda won his first ATP trophy with a straight-set victory over Italian wild card Marco Cecchinato at the Emilia-Romagna Open.

Korda became the first American in 11 years to lift a trophy on European clay, since Sam Querrey won in Belgrade in 2010.

Korda had not dropped a set all week in Parma and he carried on that run in the final to see off the 104th-ranked Cecchinato 6-2, 6-4 in 75 minutes.

The 20-year-old Korda had lost the only other final he had contested, against Hubert Hurkacz at the Delray Beach Open in January.

“This is something that I’ve dreamed of,” said Korda, who is ranked 63rd. “I really thought I was going to get it done in Delray Beach, and I was a little heartbroken.

“But I stayed positive, even with such a bad first part of the clay-court season. I took a couple of days off, recharged my batteries, and had a really good practice week in Prague with my dad and my coach. I came back hungrier, and I’m playing some really good tennis now.”

Korda’s father is former second-ranked Petr Korda. They are the third father-son duo to win tour-level singles titles in the Open Era, following in the footsteps of Ramanathan Krishnan and Ramesh Krishnan, and Phil Dent and Taylor Dent.

Korda had never even won back-to-back main draw matches on clay before arriving in Parma.

But he had stormed through to the final and held his nerve despite being faced with a partisan home crowd.

Korda won 82% of points on his first serve and broke three times, including the decisive break at 5-4 on Cecchinato’s serve to clinch the title.

He also staved off the one break point he faced, late in the second set.

“Today I played a really tough opponent and the crowd wasn’t easy,” Korda said. “They kept cheering him on, but I’m really proud of myself and how I handled it.”