Hyeon Chung: The South Korean missile
Taking the grand-slam by surprise, Hyeon Chung has undeniably announced his entry on to the world-stage.
This year's Australian Open was expected to be a simple event with no major plot twists; but instead, the script has been flipped and the odds have been trumped in a way where any analysis of the game or any prediction of the results now stands futile. With heavy-weights like Venus Williams, CoCo Vanderweghe and Sloane Stephens out of the Women's Singles, our attention was turned to the Men's competition where Novak Djokovic, six-time champion was playing Hyeon Chung.
Who is Hyeon Chung? He's not in the top 10, or the top 20. But, in fact, he is world no 58; and, as it stands, the 21 year old South Korean beat the former world no 1 Novak Djokovic 7-6 (7-4), 7-5, 7-6(7-3) to reach the Quarter Finals of the Australian Open.
Now, many have attributed Novak's loss to his unfortunate elbow injury that made sure he was out of the game for almost six-months. Additionally, a lack of regular game time might've even contributed to his bleak performance; but, one must not write off the fact that young Chung played brilliantly throughout the match. Not only has he beaten Djokovic, he has also won the QF game against Tennys Sandgren 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 to become an unlikely name in the list of semi-finalists. This now means that Hyeon Chung will face off against Roger Federer in the SFs and, in doing so, he has become the first South Korean man to reach this level of a grand slam tournament.
Having won the Next Gen ATP 2017 finals in Milan, Hyeon's claim to fame was his recognition as a relentless player with fantastic pace and brilliant footwork. His backhands are quick and he follows with even more agility—making it incredibly hard for his opponents to keep up with the pace. The 58-ranked Chung is the lowest-ranked man to reach the Australian Open semifinals since Marat Safin in 2004. At 21, he's also the youngest to reach the last four at a major, since Marin Cilic did in 2010. Dubbed the 'Professor' by his fans, Chung's popularity in his country has increased overnight and rightly so.
The young gun is a quick study and has kept up with most of the pressure that has been thrown at him during the course of this competition. His game against Sandgren was testament to the fact that Chung's sun will continue to shine irrespective of who he plays against. Even though Sandgren had a decent game towards the end, where he tried to save most of the points, the South Korean just wouldn't have it and made sure he ended the game at the right time as his cross-court forehand replicated perfect things of beauty. His achievements, so far, speak very highly for a 21 year old, 58th seeded player; and, a wishful prognosis hints that this year can only get better for him.