Michael Mmoh defeats friend Sebastian Korda in first round of Elizabeth Moore Sarasota Open


Give Sebastian Korda, 17, three more years and this match will be much closer down the road. Perhaps a toss-up.

But on Monday in the first round of the 11th annual Elizabeth Moore Sarasota Open, Michael Mmoh, 20, proved stronger and more experienced in winning the battle between Bradenton residents.

The muscular 6-foot-2 Mmoh defeated the slender 6-4 Korda 6-2, 6-4 to move on in the tournament being held at Laurel Oak Country Club.

Mmoh and Korda aren’t strangers. On the contrary.

“We practice together all the time,” Mmoh said. “I’m pretty good friends with him and his dad. I see the whole family a lot. It was unfortunate that we had to play each other in the first round.”

Korda’s father is Petr Korda, the former professional tennis star from the Czech Republic who won 10 ATP titles and was ranked No. 2 in the world in 1998 after winning the Australian Open. Sebastian’s mother is also a former pro tennis player and his sisters Jessica and Nelly play on the LPGA Tour.

The young Korda is the reigning Australian Open junior champion.

“I think Sebastian is a very young and talented player,” Mmoh said. “His results have been good and he has so much room to improve. I think he could become a very good tennis player. He has a ton of potential.”

So does Mmoh, who was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and came to Bradenton to train for several years at the IMG Academy. Mmoh, who turned pro in 2016, has won two ATP Challenger events in Knoxville, Tenn., and Lexington, Ky. He’s also won four ITF Futures tournaments.

“I’ve been working hard with my coach Glenn Weiner,” Mmoh said. “He’s been doing a great job. I’ve just been putting in the hard yards and the results are paying off. I’ve had a pretty successful year, so far. Hopefully, I can keep it going.

“I want to be able to start making moves in my career. I’ve had a pretty good start. I’m happy with my play and results.

“I think I have a lot of potential. I hope to be able to rise up to it and have a successful career.”

The first set was tied at 2-2 when Mmoh took control and went on to win the next eight games. Trailing 4-0 in the second set, Korda showed some grit winning four of the next five games before Mmoh put him away.

“Obviously, it was very tough with the windy conditions,” Mmoh said. “It was tough, honestly, I didn’t have a lot of rhythm in the first set. Luckily, I won it pretty easily. He had trouble finding his rhythm, as well.

“The first set wasn’t the best of tennis at times. We both just kind of pushed through.

“I played the big points pretty well. I think experience was on my side.”