Tennis

Australian Open upset: No Djok, South Korean Chung continues charge

Australian Open Upset No. 1: South Korean 
knocks out 12-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic

South Korea's Chung Hyeon dumped six-time champion Novak Djokovic out of the Australian Open last night in a sensational fourth-round upset.

The 21-year-old beat the battle-weary Serb, who was clearly in pain as he stretched for balls, 7-6(7/4), 7-5, 7-6(7/3) in 3hr 21 min on Rod Laver Arena.

Chung, the first South Korean man to reach the fourth round at the Australian Open, will face American bolter Tennys Sandgren in the quarter-finals tomorrow.

Two years ago, Djokovic outclassed Chung in straight sets in the opening round of the Australian Open, but the South Korean spectacularly reversed the result with three hard-fought sets against the wounded Serb in the fourth round.

It was also the first time since 2007 that Djokovic had lost in straight sets at the Australian Open.

The 30-year-old, who sought treatment for his troublesome right elbow and an apparent hip injury when stretching for a ball, battled through in great discomfort, as Chung stayed composed and mentally tough to claim his biggest win.

"I didn't know if I was going to win this match tonight, but I was just honoured to play with Novak again," said Chung.

"When I was young, I was trying to copy Novak because he's my idol. I can't believe this, dream's come true tonight."

When I was young, I was trying to copy Novak because he’s my idol. I can’t believe this, dream’s come true tonight South Korea’s Chung Hyeon, after beating Novak Djokovic in straight sets last night, two years after the Serb did that to him in Melbourne

Djokovic showed the effects of playing four rounds in his first tournament in six months, since he withdrew from Wimbledon with elbow trouble.

HORROR START

The Serb made a horror start to the match with two double-faults in each of his two opening service games for a double-break.

The six-time Melbourne winner clawed back to 5-5, but he called for the trainer to treat his right elbow early in the second set.

It got worse for the former world No. 1 as he screamed in agony stretching for a point, but he gingerly carried on and showed clear signs of discomfort.

Djokovic attempted to shorten the points and avoid long tiring rallies, as Chung continued to pull ahead.

The fast-improving Chung won last November's Next Gen ATP Finals which featured fellow young guns Andrey Rublev, Karen Khachanov and Denis Shapovalov.

He dropped serve to start the third set but Djokovic gave the serve straight back and the South Korean got another break to lead 3-1.

But Djokovic bravely dug in and again broke back, taking the set to a tie-breaker where Chung won some outstanding points to hold three match-points.

Djokovic's resistance was finally over when he sent a backhand wide.

"Congratulations to Chung on an amazing performance," said the 12-time Grand Slam winner, who has Andre Agassi in his coaching team.

"He deserved to win. Whenever he was in trouble, he came out with some great passing shots and, at the back of the court, he was like a wall."

Djokovic said he will reassess his fitness situation after this painful defeat.

He said: "Yeah, unfortunately, it's not great. Kind of end of the first set, it (elbow) started hurting more.

"So, yeah, I had to deal with it till the end of the match.

"Now I don't know. I have to reassess everything with my team, medical team, coaches and everybody, scan it, see what the situation is like."

Djokovic added that the circumstances are such that he has to accept the defeat.

He said: "That's the reality. It's frustrating when you have that much time and you don't heal properly.

"But it is what it is. There is some kind of a reason behind all of this." - AFP

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