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Sunday, February 1, 1998 Published at 07:42 GMT

Sport: Tennis

Korda, 30, wins first Grand Slam title
image: [ Peter Korda besieged by photographers after his victory ]
Peter Korda besieged by photographers after his victory

Petr Korda of the Czech Republic has won his first Grand Slam title, surging past his Chilean rival, Marcelo Rios, in straight sets at the Australian Open.

Petr Korda speaks to the crowd after his victory (20")
Korda, the number six seed, raced to a 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 victory in just one hour, 25 minutes against the number nine seed, who was playing his first Grand Slam final.

After sealing the win, Korda sank to his knees before repeating his earlier post-match celebrations by doing a cartwheel and throwing his racket into the crowd.

He then climbed into the stands to embrace his coach, Ivo Werner, his wife, Regina, and four-year-old daughter Jessica.

Korda, 30, is the oldest Grand Slam champion for eight years. Andres Gomez won the French Open in 1990 when three months older than Korda.

[ image: Korda repeated his semi final celebration antics]
Korda repeated his semi final celebration antics
He was playing his second final after losing the French Open final to Jim Courier in 1992.

Korda's triumph capped a remarkable comeback from career-threatening injuries. He has had operations for a hernia, a groin injury and sinus problems since 1995 and described his career as being at "five minutes to midnight."

Petr Korda talks to BBC 5 Live about his victory (48")
This win made up for the bitter disappointment of his withdrawal from the quarterfinals of the US Open last year. He had beaten world number one Pete Sampras in the fourth round but illness forced him to forfeit to Jonas Bjorkman in the next stage.

Korda took the initiative in a battle of two left-handers - the first such Grand Slam match-up since John McEnroe beat Jimmy Connors at Wimbledon in 1994 - by breaking Rios three times in the opening set.

Rios's first service percentage was a woeful 38% in the first set and although he boosted it to 73 % in the second he was in trouble all round.

[ image: Marcelo Rios  could not find his range]
Marcelo Rios could not find his range
Rios, the first Chilean into a Grand Slam final since Luis Ayala was runnerup at the French Open in 1958 and 1960, could not find his range.

He either popped the ball too short, exposing him to Korda's strong forehand passing shots, or overhit badly.

Rios dropped his serve in the sixth game of the second and for the fifth time of the match in the eighth to surrender the second set also in 27 minutes.

Korda opened the third set by holding the first game and then broke Rios again in the second.

Korda held for 3-0 but was forced to struggle late in the set.

He appeared to be tiring by the seventh game but endured two break points to Rios by holding for a 5-2 lead with a sharp cross court forehand.

Korda claimed $412,000 (£251,000) for the victory, with Rios taking away half that amount.

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