Hyeon Chung: Korea’s star looks to dominate

Ahead of the ATP NextGen Finals, RealSport profiles the contenders in Milan. Amongst them is South Korean star Hyeon Chung.


Three years after making his debut on the ATP Tour, South Korea’s Hyeon Chung will attempt to claim the inaugural NextGen Finals trophy in Milan. The South Korean first picked up a tennis racquet in order to help his eyesight at the age of 6, but embraced the sport swiftly. He moved from South Korea to Nick Bollettieri’s academy in Florida and the move appears to have paid off for Chung. He will be hoping to continue his rise to the top with the title in Milan.

Career highlights so far

Chung has never won an ATP World Tour singles title but he has eight Challenger Tour titles to his name. Indeed, in 2014, when Chung began to compete full time the South Korean picked up three Futures titles and won the first Challenger he entered in Bangkok. He also competed in the US Open qualifying and delivered a gold medal for South Korea at the Asian Games ending the year ranked #151.

However, it was in 2015 that Chung’s rapid rise truly began. He entered the top 150 and then the top 100, ending the season at #51 and winning the ATP’s Newcomer Award. 2016 saw the Korean consolidate his position on Tour and he has continued strongly this year. He became the highest ranked player from Korea since Hyung Taik-Lee who reached a career high ranking of# 36 in 2007. Chung hasn’t quite hit those heights yet, but made it to world #44 in September of this year. To break into the top 50 was a hugely impressive achievement for the young gun, and it will be one he doubtless hopes to build on going forward.

Rivalries

Chung’s time on the main Tour has been too brief for him to develop any major rivalries. But he has had two interesting clashes with Nadal in 2017. Nadal has won both in straight sets, first at the Barcelona Open and then at the Paris Masters. But Chung gave a fine account of himself in both matches, extending Nadal to a tiebreak in the first set of their Barcelona clash. His flat groundstrokes made the Spaniard uncomfortable, and if Chung can develop more power it could become a more competitive match up. Chung also faced off against Alexander Zverev in Barcelona and dismissed the German 6-1 6-4. The two are sure to meet again in the future and with Zverev surely wanting revenge it could well be one to watch.

Playing style

One of Chung’s best shots is his two-handed backhand, which he is able to use to great effect, particularly on hard courts. Not unlike Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray he is able and willing to take his backhand up the line to take control of a point and disrupt his opponent’s rhythm. His serve is not one of the best on Tour, however. Despite Chung standing at 6’2″ he is not able to generate much pace off his first delivery and the best returners have been able to exploit that weakness.

His forehand was initially of the Ernest Gulbis school of unorthodoxy. It was also techinically flawed with Chung having trouble imparting topspin to the ball. But that is an area that the Korean has improved dramatically by rebuilding his forehand technique over the past couple of seasons. Though it is still not as aesthetically pleasing as say Roger Federer’s, it is a far more versatile shot, which the Korean has taken advantage of.

Career statistics

Australian Open: second round 2017 (lost to Dimitrov)

French Open: third round 2017 (lost to Nishikori)

Wimbledon: first round 2015 (lost to Herbert)

US Open: second round 2015, 2017 (lost to Wawrinka and Zeballos)

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