The semi-final lineup at the cinch Championship reflects what the future of tennis could well be with two 20-year-olds, another aged 22 and the most senior at 24 making up the last four at this year’s Queen’s pre-Wimbledon warm-up.
It's massive,” he said following his win. “I'm playing really well on grass, I feel comfortable and I'm really enjoying myself here. Everything is clicking right now." Sebastian Korda
It was a point Carlos Alcaraz highlighted following his 6-4 6-4 dismissal of former Queen’s champion Grigor Dimitrov.
“It’s great to play against the young players like me,” Alcaraz, at 20 said as he looked ahead to his semi-final with Sebastian Korda, the 22 -year-old American who ousted Britain’s No.1 and fifth seeded Cameron Norrie, a former finalist at the event, 6-4 7-6(1)
“We are setting the generation and obviously we are going to play a lot of matches at such great events, great tournaments. It’ going to be really fun to play.”
The other semi-final features seventh seed Alex de Minaur, 24, against the second seed Holger Rune, 20, the Australian having battled past Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-4 4-6 6-4 whilst the Dane eventually dismissed Lorenzo Musetti 6-4 7-5.
Norrie was on track to meet Alcaraz until he ran into Korda who on the day, had his measure.
A cool and collect customer, the son of Petr Korda a former Australian Open champion, took full advantage of a below-par Brit and his errors in the opening set who was broken in the fifth game but failed to recover with one of the three chances he had in the next.
He nearly went down a double break but this time repelled the challenge with a couple of consecutive aces but couldn’t prevent Korda pocketing that first set.
Norrie also trailed early in the second but this time was able to recover for 3-3 when he broke Korda for the first time.
The Brit certainly improved in the second but just couldn’t swing the match his way as he managed to then keep pace with his opponent, world-ranked 32, only to collapse in the tie-break where he contributed to his 85-minute defeat with a double fault and a series of poor shots.
Nonetheless Norrie, who reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year was pleased with his week’s work and how his game is shaping up on grass, despite his loss to Korda.
“I’m feeling like I definitely turned a corner after the clay,” he said. “I’ve had really good preparation. I was feeling really good in the last couple weeks, and then I played three really good matches.
“It was not my best performance today, but I feel like I’m definitely improving.
“In the big moments I haven’t been playing as well as I was earlier in the year. So now I’m looking to get back to preparing for Wimbledon.”
For Korda playing his first Queen’s, the results and the run so far was very satisfying.
“It’s massive,” he said following his win. “I’m playing really well on grass, I feel comfortable and I’m really enjoying myself here.
“Everything is clicking right now.”
Having now seemingly fully recovered form a wrist injury which has kept him away from public view since reaching the last eight at this year’s Australian Open, Korda is certainly a player to keep an eye on and could well be a contender at Wimbledon which starts Monday week.
However most of the attention is currently focused on the youngster from Murcia in Spain, Carlos Alcaraz, who continues to impress on grass as he improves with each of his performances this week.
His quarter final opponent, Dimitrov, 32, was expected to give him a good run having won the event in 2014, but like all of Alcaraz’s previous challengers, couldn’t find a way past him despite holding a 2-0 led in the second set before being swept aside after 92-minutes.
“The work that I put in, the matches that I played a great level helped me a lot coming into this really tough match,” Alcaraz admitted after reaching his first semi-final on grass and the 21st of his young career!
“Grigor is a top player in every surface, but I would say even more here on grass, he feels the ball really well.
“I just played really well from the beginning until the last ball.”
Looking ahead to his meeting with Korda, he added:
“Sebi, he’s a friend. He’s coming with great tennis. Of course, I would say it’s going to be a really good match. I hope the crowd enjoys that match because it’s something special.”