Internet Desk: Young teenage sensation Hyeon Chung was not known to anyone before he started his historic journey at the Australian Open and now he has become the very first Korean player who have reached the semifinals of a Grand Slam.
He has become a star in South Korea as well as all over the world after he beat his childhood idol and six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic in straight sets to reach the semifinal where he will face the legendary Roger Federer.
Chung joined twitter on Wednesday after beating Novak Djokovic and he has already have 11,000 followers in just 24 hrs span and it is growing day by day.
“From what I’ve heard, it’s blowing up in Korea pretty big,” Chung’s coach, Neville Godwin, said Thursday at Melbourne Park. “The day after the Djokovic match, he was front page in every single Korean newspaper. And deservedly so.”
If he can gets past the 19-time major winner to reach the final, it would be one of the major upset in the history of tennis.
“I think all the people is watching Australian Open now because we make history in Korea,” Chung said following his quarterfinal win.
South Korea is popular for golf, taekwondo, baseball and soccer, but the tennis in the nation is yet to be developed. If Chung finally makes history in the Australian Open the situation might change in South Korea. Born with poor eyesight, he took up the sport as a young child after doctors said it would benefit him to focus on the colour green. After showing promise, Chung became part of a junior tennis program funded by the electronics giant Samsung to develop the game in South Korea.
“They would pay for his coach, they actually selected the coach, then obviously as he progressed it got to different levels and a different structure,” said his agent at IMG, Stuart Duguid. “That’s how it started.”
Chung performed well too in junior level as he became runner-up in the Wimbledon back in 2013, but his rise came under limelight last year where he beat Alexander Zverev, David Goffin and Gael Monfils, and then captured the much-hyped first installment of the Next Gen ATP Finals in November.
This shouldn’t be surprising given that Chung grew up idolizing Djokovic and modeled his game after the former No. 1. Chung grew up dreaming of playing on centre court at Melbourne Park because this is where Djokovic won the first of his 12 majors in 2008.
“I’m just trying to play (like) Novak because he playing good in baseline and he’s mentally really strong,” Chung said after beating Djokovic in the fourth round. “I’m just honoured to see him again on the tour. Today my dreams come true.”
Now, Chung has another big test in the semifinals: Federer. The Swiss great is playing in his 43rd Grand Slam semifinal; Chung his first. Godwin said Chung just has to focus on his own game plan and try not to think about Federer’s presence across the net.
“It’s a big moment, it’s an enjoyable moment,” he said. “The way he’s playing, I’m sure there’s going to be more, but for right now, you’ve got to embrace it.”
Win or lose, Chung’s profile will certainly only continue to grow. With the Australian Open promoting itself as the Grand Slam of Asia-Pacific, Duguid said it’s a perfect opportunity for Chung to pursue opportunities with companies back home.
“Now, rather than us calling them, they’re calling us,” he said. “I can’t remember the last time that something happened so suddenly, overnight.”