In a clash between youth and experience 12th seeded Tomas Berdych takes on 23rd seed Hyeon Chung, who recently stunned the tennis world with a hugely impressive run to the Australian Open semifinals. Both men will be eager to make their way into the Indian Wells quarterfinals with a winnable match against either Dominic Thiem or Pablo Cuevas on the cards. But who will emerge victorious from the last match of the day on Stadium One?
Berdych and Chung have met twice so far in their careers with the big-hitting Czech coming away with the victory on both occasions. Their first match was three years ago in Miami in the second round. Chung, then a promising but largely unknown teenager, was brushed aside by Berdych in straight sets who went on to reach the semifinals. He was again a straight sets winner when the rivalry was renewed last year in the second round in Lyon where Berdych triumphed 6-3 7-5.
Path to the third round
Both men received byes into the second round as did allthe seeds in the draw. That saw Tomas Berdych begin his Indian Wells campaign against Germany’s Maximilien Marterer. The 22-year-old recently reached a career-high ranking of world #70 as well as making it to the third round of the Australian Open. He impressed in his three-set victory over the giant veteran Ivo Karlovic, rallying from a set down to win. But he could offer no such resistance to the power of Berdych who won comfortably 6-1 6-4.
Chung opened in the desert against Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic. Lajovic, an elegant ball striker, with plenty of experience of the Tour was no easy first assignment for the 21-year-old Korean. So it proved when Lajovic took a gripping opening set in the tiebreak, winning it 11-9. But Chung redoubled his efforts and was rewarded. He broke through in the second set, winning it 6-3 to level the match. He then won the decider by the same score to reach the third round.
How do they match up?
The match up promises what should be an entertaining clash between an aggressive and a defensive baseliner. Berdych’s easy power has always been the bedrock of his game and such is the venom that the Czech can impart on his shots that many have argued in another era he would have been a multiple Grand Slam champion. The best shot in his arsenal is his forehand which when he is allowed to really unleash on is almost unplayable.
Chung’s greatest strengths are his movement and the consistency of his groundstrokes. After his victory over Djokovic at the Australian Open he was hailed by many as the successor to the great Serbian. It is not hard to see why. Chung’s ability to defend out of the corners was hugely impressive and some of his stretches to his backhand could have been copied straight from Djokovic’s playbook. His use of depth, key to Djokovic’s success, was also impressive and if he can do the same against Berdych he could get the win.
Crucial for the Czech’s success in the match will likely be patience. He does have the power to hit through Chung, whose defensive skills, whilst impressive, are not yet at an elite level. But he is certainly good enough to frustrate Berdych early on and the 12th seed will have to maintain his focus. A high first serve percentage will also be important as Chung returns well enough to take advantage of Berdych’s second serve, which is a weakness in his game.
This should be one of the better matches of the day. It’s a close contest between a rising star and a player coming towards the end of his career. But it will be the veteran who comes out on top in this one. Berdych’s experience and power should just tip the scales in his favour, and though it won’t be easy for him, expect him to come through in three sets.
Who do you think will win the match? Let us know in the comments below!