Hyeon Chung Aims To Emulate ‘Pride Of Asia’ Nishikori - UBITENNIS
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Hyeon Chung Aims To Emulate ‘Pride Of Asia’ Nishikori

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South Korea’s Hyeon Chung doesn’t just want his Australian Open run to be a stepping stone for himself, but for the entire Asian tennis community.

Prior to this year, the 21-year-old had never made it beyond the third round of a grand slam event in seven attempts.  That all changed in Melbourne with a run that saw him outplay and overpower six-time champion Novak Djokovic. Becoming the first South Korean player to reach the last eight of a major event.

Chung continued his surge in Melbourne Park on Wednesday. Disposing of another underdog, Tennys Sandgren, 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-3. Winning 78% of his first service points and converting three out of his four break point opportunities.

“I don’t know in last game 40-love up, I start thinking what I had to do in ceremony, something like that,” Chung said. “After the deuce point, no ceremony. I’m just trying to stay focused because I’m first time in these [big] matches.”

As a result of his fairytale run in Melbourne, Chung is set to break into the world’s top 30. Becoming the Asian No.2 behind a player he aspires to follow in the footsteps of – Kei Nishikori. Nishikori is the first Asian man to contest a grand slam final at the 2014 US Open and is a superstar in his native country. Forbes Magazine ranked the Japanese player as the 92nd highest paid celebrity in 2017 with $30 million earned in endorsements alone.

In recent years tennis has seen a surge in Asian players coming through on the tour. A movement Chung believes is based on the benchmarks set by Nishikori.

“I don’t know. Because they are playing good.” He replied when asked about the surge in tennis players. “The first player is Kei Nishikori, (who is) playing in top 10 already. So we Asian players are looking to Kei and we are trying to follow him. He’s the pride of an Asian player.”

Surge in fame

Chung himself is starting to experience what it is like to be a celebrity in his homeland. South Korean media outlet Yonhap News has reported that sales of tennis products have surged during his Australian Open performance. Despite it being the heart of winter in the country. Shopping website, 11th Street, has reported a 86% rise in tennis goods being sold.

The rise of the youngster has earned praise from the former hero of South Korean Tennis, Lee Hyung-taik. Lee reached a high of 36th in the world in 2007 and claimed one ATP title. He also reached the fourth round of the US Open twice.

“Records are meant to be broken,” Lee told Yonhap. “People have said Chung Hyeon is the next Lee Hyung-taik, but now he is just Chung Hyeon.”
“Now, there will be lots of young people who wish to become like Chung. As a person who runs a tennis academy, I am happy.” He later added.

Along with the surge comes the high expectation that will now be placed upon Chung. It remains to be seen how good he can become, but former player Lee is already tipping him for Olympic success. The next games will be help in Tokyo in 2020.

“I believe Chung will be able to break Nishikori’s Asian records,” he said. “Chung has also grown up to become a player who can go for an Olympic medal.”

Chung has already broken one milestone. He is the first Asian player to reach the last four at the Australian Open since Japan’s Jiro Sato back in 1932.

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Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two

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Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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Carlos Alcaraz Still Owns A Magical Racket

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The legend of Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket lives on.

The 21-year-old Spaniard executed one magical shot after another with his racket and legs  Sunday afternoon in the French Open final. That bit of magic spelled defeat for Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

This was a final to remember, one of the great matches of all the Grand Slams. It just wasn’t in the cards for the 26-year-old Zverev to finally win a Grand Slam title.

HE HAD IT, THEN HE DIDN’T

Both players seemed to play a game of “he had it and then he didn’t.”

Alcaraz appeared to have everything under control in the first set, but Zverev rushed through the second set and then made a comeback from 5-2 down in the third set to win five straight games.

Zverev had everything going for him when he started the fourth set with a two-set advantage. It appeared that all the 6-6 Zverev had to do was to continue playing his masterful game of big serves and mighty ground strokes.

But Zverev couldn’t get started in the fourth set until he was down 4-0. So much for a smooth and easy ride to a Grand Slam title. By then, the magic of Alcaraz was heating up.

MAGIC OF ALCARAZ HEATING UP

Zverev still had his chances, even when he fell behind 2-1 in the fifth set. He had to feel pretty good about his chances when he took a triple break point lead against Alcaraz’s serve and appeared ready to even the set at 2-2. Even after Carlos came up with a winner to bring the  game score to double break point.

Zverev still was ready to even the entire match.

That’s when everything seemed to go haywire for the German, while all the while, Alcaraz was able to repeatedly come up with his magical shots as the Spaniard made critical shots that looked almost impossible to make.

ALCARAZ HEADED FOR GREATNESS

Everything for Zverev was lost in the magical racket of Alcaraz.

What was then initially called a game-ending Alcaraz double fault and a 2-2 deadlock quicky reversed itself and Alcaraz stayed alive by winning the next three points while taking a 3-1 advantage.

Zverev did get back to a 3-2 deficit and had a break point in the sixth game, but that was it for the hopes of Zverev. The last two games went rather easily in favor of Alcaraz to wrap up a 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory for Alcaraz.

That moved the Spaniard to a higher level of success on the ATP Tour. He became the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on all of the different surfaces, clay, grass and hard courts.

Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket appear to be headed for greatness.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Tsitsipas Brothers Hit With Trio Of Fines At French Open

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Stefanos Tsitsipas and his brother Petros have been fined more than 20,000 euros for multiple violations of the coaching rules at this year’s French Open. 

The brothers received a financial penalty during three different matches that they played in. Two of those were in the second and third rounds of the men’s doubles tournament. Furthermore, Stefanos was also penalised during his singles quarter-final match against Carlos Alcaraz, which he lost in straight sets. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, all three of those fines were issued as a result of coaching rules being broken.

Ironically, coaching is allowed during matches at the French Open but certain rules must be followed. ‘Verbal’ coaching can only be issued from the coaches and their team if they are sitting in the designated player’s box. Instructions must be limited to a few words and can only be given if the player is in the same half of the court as their coach. Although non-verbal coaching is allowed regardless of what side the player is on. Finally, players can’t start a conversation with their coach unless it is during a medical break, a bathroom break or when their opponent is changing clothes.

However, the Tsitsipas brothers have been found in violation of these rules, which is likely due to their animated father in the stands who is also their coach. Apostolos Tsitsipas has been given coaching violations in the past at other events, including the 2022 Australian Open. 

The value of the fines are €4,600 and €9,200 for the Tsitsipas brothers in the doubles, as well as an additional €7,400 just for Stefanos in the singles. In total, the value of their fines is €21,200. However, the penalty is unlikely to have an impact on the duo whose combined earnings for playing in this year’s French Open amount to roughly €495,000. 

So far in the tournament, the highest single fine to be issued this year was against Terence Atmane who hit a ball out of frustration that struck a fan in the stands. Atmane, who later apologised for his actions, managed to avoid getting disqualified from the match. Instead, he was fined €23,000. 

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