Chung shot to fame in 2018 when he became the first Korean man to break through into the semi-final of a grand slam, at the Australian Open. How did the kid who took on tennis for the purpose of improving his eyesight find his way at the very top of the professional tennis rankings. This is his story.
You will never what talents you have, until you try things out, for talent is often stumbled upon, and Chung's story could serve as proof of that. As mentioned above, tennis as taken up by Chung to maintain his eyesight, after he was forced to take on spectacles. It turned out that tennis was something that he was really good at. Chung won the Eddie Herr International and Junior Orange Bowl Boys under-12 titles in December 2008, and was subsequently enrolled to the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy at IMG in Florida. Chung began competing on the ITF junior tour in 2012, and was runner-up in the 2013 Wimbledon Boys' Singles. A month before this, another career watershed point was reached with his winning of a first Futures title.
Breakthrough to become a professional: 2014 - 2015
A series of wins in 2014 solidified Chung's transition from a top-ranked junior player to a full-time professional - his winning of three Futures tournaments and his first Challenger tournament, the Bangkok Open. These crucial wins brought his ATP ranking up to 151 in the world, and he was qualified to play in the qualifying rounds of the US Open - a first professional grand slam competitive experience for him. His steady performance continued on into 2015, with a few more Challenger titles in the first half of the year. He also qualified for his first Masters ATP tournament Miami, and his first grand slam main draw appearance, at the Wimbledon championships of that year, where he lost to beautifully-arched server Pierre-Hughes Hubert in five sets - not bad of an achievement for a grand-slam main-draw first-timer. Two other career landmarks were made in the later half of the year, with his first grand slam main draw win in the first round of the US Open, before losing to Wawrinka in the next round, and his reaching of the first ATP tournament quarterfinal at Shenzhen.
The 2016 season was unfortunately cut short for Chung due to injury. After losing in the first round to qualifier Halys, Chung took around 4 months of injury-rest. Not to worry for him though, speaking in hindsight, for he is still young and greater things only lie ahead of him.
Post-injury Breakthrough: 2017
2017 turned out to be a remarkable year for someone seeking to come back from an injury. First of all, he reached the quarter-final of the Barcelona Open, beating Alexander Zverev on the way, and taking Nadal to a tie-break before losing to him. Such achievement though is not a breakthrough. His first career breakthrough of the year came when he beat then world number 16 Gael Monfils in the second round of the Munich Open, the highest-ranking he has ever beaten thus far. He also reached, for the first time, the third round of a grand slam (the French Open), and the third round of an ATP 1000 Masters tournament (the Rogers Cup).
Early season career breakthrough, then ankle-injury: 2018
If 2017 was great for Chung given his successful come-back from injury, the first half of 2018 would be spectacular for him. Not feeling satisfied from securing a big win by entering the quarter-finals of the Auckland Open, Chung surged into the semi-finals of the Australian Open shortly afterwards, defeating top seed Alexander Zverev and six-time champion Novak Djokovic on route to it. By entering that semi-final he became the first South Korean player in history to go past the round of 16 in a grand slam, made Djokovic lose in straight sets at the Australian Open for the first time since 2007, the youngest Australian Open semifinalist since Marin Cilic in 2010, and the lowest ranked since then world number 86 Marat Safin in 2004. Unfortunately a foot blister forced him to withdraw against Federer in the semi-finals. That was not the most serious injury for him of that year, for a current ankle injury has forced him to not play at the French Open and Wimbledon this year. We can't wait for him to be back!
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