Posts Tagged 'nishikori'

In the spotlight: Hyeon Chung

© ATP World Tour

As we move onto the Asian swing, the attention turns to Asia’s No. 1 male tennis player in Kei Nishikori. The Shimane native has consolidated on his success from last year with titles in Memphis, Barcelona and Washington. The current World No. 6 became a superstar in his home country with a finals appearance at the 2014 US Open, knocking out World No. 1 Novak Djokovic on route to the title match. As Nishikori has proven, one man is all it takes to inspire a new generation of tennis aspirants for a country renowned for it’s football success.

Prior to Nishikori’s rise, there was of course Paradorn Srichaphan who became the first Asian born man to reach the top 10 of the men’s rankings and won five ATP World Tour titles before retiring in 2010. More recently on the women’s side, there was Li Na a former Australian and French Open winner. Young Asian tennis stars have been hard to find but they are slowly emerging from the unlikeliest of countries. One player is Hyeon Chung, a 19 year-old Korean who has solidified his court craft in the challenger tour.

YTR Hyeon Chung

The current World No. 55 has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the past three years and now sits on the cusp of becoming the highest ranked South Korean in history (Hyung-Taik Lee reached a career high 36 in 2007). At 6’1″ and 183lbs, the Suwon native isn’t your typical Asian tennis player and definitely has the physique to make it to the top. 2015 has been an immensely successful year for Chung on the Challenger tour, with titles in Burnie, Savannah, Busan and Kaohsuing.

The talented teenager has also had his first taste at Grand Slam level, making appearances at Wimbledon and the US Open, losing in the first and second round respectively. Game play wise, Chung is solid on both wings with strong court movement to support his game. For someone of that height, his serve does need additional work in order to win more free points. He has already demonstrated that he has the mental strength to hold himself together and rebound from adversity.

Not making the headlines early on his career could be a positive thing for Chung as he continues to strive the best he can be and when the time comes, he can grasp the opportunity with both hands. While he may not be as well known as his fellow teenagers Coric, Kyrgios and Kokkinakis, Chung will be someone you will definitely hear of in the years to come.

US Open 2015: Players to watch

The final Grand Slam kicks off this coming Monday, and as always critics and pundits are keen to rate each players chances of capturing the title. Here’s my personal take.

  1. Novak Djokovic (SRB): Arguably the player to beat in 2015 and is hoping to capture his third major this year, a feat he achieved in 2011. He is in excellent form at the moment, reaching finals in Canada and Cincinnati. Has reached the semis or better at the US Open since 2007 and that streak looks set to continue in 2015.
  2. Roger Federer (SUI): Built on his resurgence in 2014 by once again reaching the final at Wimbledon before falling to his nemesis Djokovic. Has had mixed fortunes at the Grand Slams this year but will be buoyed by his recent title win in Cincinnati. Hasn’t captured the US Open since 2008 but would expect his name in the second week of the tournament.
  3. Andy Murray (GBR): Bounced back superbly in 2015 after a dismal 2014 to his standards. Back troubles seem to be behind him and has reached the semi-finals or better at the Grand Slams this year. Recently clinched the Canadian Open against Djokovic, ending an eight match losing streak against the Serbian. Has a tricky opener against Kyrgios.
  4. Stan Wawrinka (SUI): Proven that he’s no one-slam wonder by winning the French title against the heavy favourite Djokovic. Has had mixed results of late but would expect him to reach the latter stages of the tournament. Been unfairly dragged into the Nick Kyrgios controversy, and is scheduled to meet the controversial Australian in the quarter-finals.
  5. Kei Nishikori (JPN): Made history last year at the Open by becoming the first Asian born man to reach a Grand Slam final. Built on his success in 2014, by winning titles in Memphis, Barcelona and the Citi Open. Beat Nadal for the first time in his career in Canada before falling to Murray. Faces a potential rematch with Cilic in the quarter-finals.
  6. Marin Cilic (CRO): Not to take anything away from him, but I’m sure few would of expected the tall Croatian to be last year’s winner. Has struggled in 2015, with a quarter-final at Wimbledon his only noteworthy mention. Hard to see him replicating his success from last year but does have a good draw to make at least the quarter-finals.
  7. Rafael Nadal (ESP): It’s hard to believe that on his last visit to New York he was hoisting the trophy. 2015 hasn’t been a good year for the Spaniard, for the first time since 2009 he hasn’t won Roland Garros and his woes at Wimbledon continued. Has had to resort to the lower tier to find form. Making the quarters would be a respectable acheivement.