It is meaningful for Chung Hyeon to hold a racket while staying injury-free this season. He had to leave the court for five months since the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament held in Rotterdam, the Netherlands in February due to back injury.
The 23-year-old Korean tennis player missed two major tournaments including the French Open and the Wimbledon. Even though Chung had serious blisters on his left foot at the 2018 Australian Open, he played against Roger Federer in the semi-final, saying he could not disappoint his fans. This episode helps one to assume how seriously he had been injured during the past five months.
Chung beat Ernesto Escobedo (206th) of the U.S. 3-2 in the first round of the U.S. Open men’s singles, season’s final grand slam tournament, held in New York. He advanced to the second round of the U.S. Open for three years in a row after playing five sets in three hours and 36 minutes. “I think I’ve overcome the past five months well,” said Chung after the match. “Watching other players, I thought I want to come back as soon as possible. I want to finish the season injury-free.”
Chung showed a solid performance. He fired 17 aces, improving one of his biggest weaknesses. He hit 64 winners against Escobedo’s 46. In particular, Chung had a high net-play percentage of 84 percent (21/25). “Chung Hyeon seemed to be in good condition today. He is almost 70% of his best form. His aggressive serves helped him win the match today,” said Park Yong-guk, head of the sports department at the NH Nonghyup Bank, after watching the match in New York. “But he hasn’t fully recovered his power while serving. He will need to work on his serve mechanism with his coaches.
Chung will play against Fernando Verdasco of Spain in the second round on Thursday. Verdasco is a veteran player, who ranked 7th in 2009. Chung lost to Verdasco 0-2 in the round of 16 in the 2015 U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship. “Verdasco is a very competent and tricky player to compete against,” Chung said. “Since I’m a challenger, I’ll try to learn from him and do my best on the court.”