Chung pulls off stunning upset with victory over Djokovic at Australian Open

AP
Six-time champion Novak Djokovic bows out of the Australian Open in the fourth round as relentless South Korean Chung Hyeon grounds him down to claim a stunning victory. 
AP
AFP

South Korea’s Hyeon Chung plays a forehand return to Serbia’s Novak Djokovic during their men’s singles fourth round match at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Monday. 

Six-time champion Novak Djokovic was stunned in straight sets by Hyeon Chung not long after Tennys Sandgren upset No. 5 Dominic Thiem at the Australian Open on Monday.

The season-opening major often throws up unexpected results, but the back-to-back upsets resulted in a longshot of a quarterfinal: Chung, the first Korean to reach the last eight at a grand slam, vs 97th-ranked Sandgren, who had never won a match at a major or beaten a top 10 player until last week.

The 58th-ranked Chung relentlessly attacked Djokovic, who is playing his first tournament since Wimbledon because of an injured right elbow, in the 7-6 (4), 7-5, 7-6 (3) fourth-round win.

He ripped 47 winners, including a forehand on the slide and at full stretch on the baseline that put him within two points of victory.

Chung credited the usually athletic Djokovic, who needed a medical timeout in the second set for a massage on his sore elbow, for the inspiration.

“When I’m young, I’m just trying to copy Novak because he’s my idol,” Chung said. “I can’t believe this tonight. Dreams come true tonight.”

Djokovic, who winced and grimaced throughout the match, particularly when stretching for backhands, said he’d need to reassess the treatment for his elbow. But he said he didn’t want his injuries to detract from Chung’s win

“Amazing. Amazing performance,” Djokovic said. “Impressive. Whenever he was in trouble, he came up with some unbelievable shots. Just from the back of the court, you know, he was like a wall.”

The 26-year-old Sandgren, who entered the season’s opening major ranked 97th, missed a match point in the fourth set but held on for a 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (7), 6-3 win over Thiem. It followed up his earlier victory over 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka.

“I don’t know if this is a dream or not, all you guys are here, so maybe it’s not,” he said after his 3-hour, 54-minute fourth-round win. “I’m not in my underwear, so maybe it’s not a dream.”

Sandgren is only the second man in 20 years to reach the quarterfinals on his debut at Melbourne Park.

He converted half of his eight break-point chances, and fended off 10 of the 12 he faced against Thiem, and hit 63 winners against 38 unforced errors in the biggest win of his life.

“Trying to keep riding the wave,” said Sandgren, who was named after his great-grandfather and who comes from Tennessee.

Defending champion Roger Federer had no real difficulties in reaching the Australian Open quarterfinals for the 14th time, accounting for Marton Fucsovics 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-2.

The 19-time major winner had never played Fucsovics but had beaten his coach, Attila Savolt, here in the second round in 2002.

Federer will renew a lengthy rivalry next against Tomas Berdych, who returned to the quarterfinals for the seventh time at Melbourne Park with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 win over Fabio Fognini. The win over Fucsovics was Federer’s first day match of the 2018 tournament. 

AFP

South Korea's Hyeon Chung (left) listens to Serbia's Novak Djokovic after their men's singles fourth round match at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Monday. 

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