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South Korean tennis star Hyeon Chung starts comeback

Words by Rob Chilton

The South Korean tennis player Hyeon Chung speaks to EDGAR about his career, his painful blisters and playing against Roger Federer

Hyeon Chung was on a roll, having reached the semi-final of the Australian Open in January 2018 (he retired hurt) and climbing to number 19 in the world rankings. But then a back injury derailed his progress and he was forced to rest for five months. Last week, Chung recorded a significant landmark in his comeback with an impressive win in Chengdu, his first title since the 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals. "I'm really happy and I'm looking forward to playing even more," said Chung. "The weather here was really hot and humid and I played three long matches in a row. I was trying to stay calm all the time and fight for every point. It feels great to be back on court and without pain. I practised really hard to get here."

How do you reflect on that Australian Open semi-final in January 2018?

I’m proud of what I achieved in Australia. It is my best career performance and gave me lots of confidence. I think the experience at the stadium with the big crowds and playing against one of the best players in the world will remain as one of the best memories for the rest of my life.

What was the reaction in South Korea when you reached the semi-final?

It was sensational. It was the first time for a Korean player to be a Grand Slam semi-finalist in tennis history and lots of media covered it as the top story. I received many congratulatory messages including one from the president of Korea.

What was your welcome home like?

More than 100 media people came out to the airport to see me. I was surprised!

Chung is finally back from injury

How bad were your blisters?

Extremely painful. I would not have retired if it had been something I could bear but I wasn’t even able to put my foot on the ground.

How did you fix the problem?

I received medical treatment and physiotherapy to take care of it. In the future, my team and I will utilise every possible method to prevent blisters.

When you played Roger Federer in Melbourne, what struck you about the way he plays?

He plays in a speedy manner, minimising the use of his energy. He has many qualities that I would like to learn.

Chung is nicknamed The Professor

What’s your pre-match meal?

On the day of the match, I have light meals, sometimes just white rice with some olive oil. On the day before the match day, I usually have a Chinese meal for dinner. I like to eat well.

What’s your target now?

Just do my best at every match, participate in all the planned tournaments – and finish the season without injury. There are many things that I still have to work on such as my serve and forehand. I’m working on making some changes and fine-tuning them.

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