Straight sets wins for both Roger Federer and Hyeon Chung in the fourth round mean that they will face each other in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. This will give the pair the chance to have a proper match unlike their previous meeting at the Australian Open which was marred by the young South Korean retiring in the second set due to foot injuries.
This is the quarterfinal match-up that much of the tennis world wanted as it pits the Old Master against one of the Next Gen talents. And with Chung fully fit this time around, the match will serve as a good barometer of how close Federer is to passing on the baton to the younger generation.
However, given that suggestions like this were made six years ago too, it remains to be seen whether the match will signify anything other than an enjoyable tennis match between two in-form players. The way Federer is playing right now, he may well continue dominating the tour for years to come.
How will this match pan out? It is probably fair to say that the fate of the outcome is very much in Federer's hands. If he is playing near his highest level, like he has been in his last two matches, then it will prove a very arduous task for the youngster to overcome his opponent.
Although Chung played remarkably well against Tomas Berdych in the third round, he did show some nerves and fragility towards the tail end of his encounter against Pablo Cuevas. He gave up a double break lead before finally winning the match on his 10th attempt. And considering the serving form that Federer is currently in - losing only five points on serve against Chardy - Chung simply cannot afford to sacrifice his own serve so casually if he hopes to have any chance of advancing to another semifinal this year.
What does Chung need to do to beat Federer? Holding serve is obviously essential, but the question of how he can break Federer's seemingly invincible serve is the million dollar question that he needs to answer - as does most of the men's tour. Federer in an interview earlier this year argued that to beat him, the opponent would have to play aggressively from the off and try to disrupt his rhythm. And if the Swiss Maestro says that, then who are we mere mortals to disagree with him?
Federer's words ring with a symphony of truth considering that this is a tactic Nadal has played masterfully over the years with handsome results. So it wouldn't be a bad idea for Chung to at least try this in the first set and see if it works for him. And if it proves ineffective, then hopefully he has a plan B!
It's hard to predict anything but a victory for Federer. Nevertheless, it will be a fascinating spectacle to watch that will serve either as an announcement of Chung's imminent arrival at the pinnacle of the men's game, or as a masterclass wherein the youngster is told how much he still has to learn.
Prediction: Federer to win in straight setsPublished 15 Mar 2018, 20:04 IST