April 10, 2024

Open Court


After nearly two years, Hyeon Chung is back in Seoul

UPDATE: Chung and Kwon Soonwoo were successful in Chung’s comeback, defeating Hans Hach Verdugo and Treat Huey 10-8 in the match tiebreak to reach the quarterfinals. They will face No. 4 seeds Goransson and McLachlan Friday.

It was beginning to look as though Hyeon Chung, who reached No. 18 in the ATP singles rankings in 2018 when he was jut 21, was never coming back.

Recurring back woes appear to be the reason Chung, still only 26, has been out of action all this time.

But he’s back this week, with a wild card into the doubles in the Seoul ATP event. He’s scheduled to partner with countryman Soonwoo Kwon, who has taken over his mantle as the only Korean male player in the top 100.

The tournament, a pop-up event to fill the gap left by the absence of the China tournaments, means men’s tennis is back in Korea for the first time since 1996 – the year Chung was born.

Here he is in action in qualifying at the 2020 fall edition of Roland Garros, during his last Tour-level victory: 7-6 (7), 6-4 against Baptiste Crepatte of France.

Chung in qualifying at Roland Garros in 2020. It was the last time he played – until his scheduled return this week in Seoul.

He lost in the second round to Renzo Olivo.

Chung was out from Feb. 2019 until he returned in July of that year, winning a Challenger in Chengdu, China.

We had spotted him practicing in Miami in early April of that year. But it was pretty apparent by the way he was moving that the back was an issue. He didn’t end up playing that event and, indeed, was out another three months.

Chung was on the practice court in Miami in 2019. But he never made the date in the tournament.

Later that month he went from the qualifying to the third round at the US Open.

But it’s been nearly two years since that appearance in Paris.

His crowning moment was a shocker of a straight-sets upset of Novak Djokovic at the 2018 Australian Open.

Is this the start of a comeback? Or is this just a special appearance, in a sense, because of the fact that ATP tennis is in his homeland for the first time in so long.

Time will tell. We’ll look forward to seeing how he looks on court.

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