In a tournament full of surprises, Hyeon Chung may have pulled the biggest one yet, stunning 6-time champion Novak Djokovic 7-6(4), 7-5, 7-6(3) in the Australian Open fourth round Monday night in Melbourne.
After a flurry of double faults from the No. 1, Chung burst out early on Djokovic, racing to a 4-0 lead. Djokovic, though, found the range on his serve and leveled, but errors spelled doom for the Serb in the breaker.
Chung kept pounding away in very Djokovic-like fashion in the second while Djokovic began to fade. Novak took treatment for his elbow, showed pain in stretching with his hip and overall, just looked like someone who hadn’t played in six months, which was understandable.
Chung didn’t care. He was relentless.
Chung got up in the third but just when it looked over Djokovic mounted a charge to get the break back. Djokovic appeared to be over his second set niggles, but still nowhere near his normal level.
In the end, it was Chung who got the breaker winning the last three points. The 21-year-old had just beaten No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev and now sent the Serb home yet again without a Major title. And he becomes the first Korean to ever make a Grand Slam quarterfinal.
“When i was young i am just trying to copy novak because he is my idol, I don’t know,” Chung said. “I’m just honored to play with novak again, I’m happy to see him on the tour. I can’t believe this. Dreams come true tonight.”
Meanwhile, Djokovic suffered his second straight stunning loss a year after following to the bespectacled Denis Istomin.
“I just have to congratulate the opponent tonight,” Djokovic said. “He was the better player in the decisive moments. 7-6, 7-5, 7-6, over three hours, three and a half hours, it was very long, a lot of rallies. He had to earn his victory. At least I wanted to, you know, challenge him to earn it without me handing it to him.”
The question now is, where does Djokovic go with his elbow which he says was bothering him today.
“It’s not great. Unfortunately, it’s not great,” he explained. “Kind of end of the first set it started hurting more. So, yeah, I had to deal with it till the end of the match.
“I have to reassess everything with my team, medical team, coaches and everybody, scan it, see what the situation is like. Last couple weeks I played a lot of tennis. Let’s see what’s happening inside.”
Djokovic finished with 9 doubles faults, 36 winners, 57 unforced and was just 5/19 on break points. Chung connected on 47 winners to 37 unforced and was 6/10 on his break opportunities.
On Wednesday, the 58th-ranked Chung will meet the 97th-ranked Tennys Sangren in one of the most improbable Grand Slam quarterfinals in recent memory.
The 26-year-old Sangren kept his dream run going ousting the No. 5 Dominic Thiem in five sets 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-7(7), 6-3 in 3 hours, 54 minutes.
Coming into the Australian Open, Sandgren had never won a Grand Slam match and had just two career tour-level wins. But now he’s beaten Top 10ers in Stan Wawrinka and now Thiem.
Earlier in the day, Roger Federer rolled into his 14th Australian Open quarterfinal ending the hopes of Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics 6-4, 7-6, 6-2.
Federer, who has won his last 11 in Melbourne, now faces familiar foe Tomas Berdych who beat Fabio Fognini in straight sets. Federer leads Berdych 19-6 with three wins last year including at the Australian Open.
“Against Tomas sometimes in the past when I did play well things went my way,” Federer said. “Same for him when he beat me on those occasions, he also played extremely well.
“I don’t remember what I thought was going to happen in the third round. I just remember looking at the draw and thinking what a horrid draw it is. But, okay, if I lose third, fourth, or quarters, doesn’t really matter because it’s all about the same as long as I get home injury-free and I’ll be happy.
“I’m looking forward to play against him. He seems in good shape, and I’m happy he’s over his back issues that he also had at the end of last year. That’s a good thing.”
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