In his second-round match against Fernando Verdasco, South Korea qualifier Hyeon Chung was just a set away from defeat after surrendering the first two sets 1-6, 2-6, but staged a spirited comeback to win the next three to stun the Spaniard in five sets by a 1-6, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3, 7-6(7-3) margin.
With his famous win over Verdasco, Chung advances to the third round and will meet another Spaniard, the 18-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal in his upcoming encounter at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Nadal, on the other hand, was not made to break a sweat as his opponent Thanasi Kokkanakis withdrew from his battle against the Spaniard owing to a right shoulder injury, offering the World No.2 a walkover in their second-round encounter at the US Open.
In the two meetings between Chung and Nadal on the ATP tour so far, the South Korean is yet to take a set off Nadal as the Spaniard cruised to straight-sets victories over Chung at Barcelona and Paris Masters 1000 event, back in 2017.
Chung’s best performance at the Majors came on the hard courts of the Australian Open in 2018 when he upset the likes of Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic en route to stage a remarkable appearance in the semi-finals against Roger Federer down under.
The South Korean has had a nervous and painful connection with injuries so far in his career and this year has been no different as he did not participate at Roland Garros and Wimbledon 2019 before making a comeback on the tour just a month ago.
Nonetheless, as Chung prepares himself for one of the bigger days on the tour as he plays Nadal at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in their third-round encounter, he can draw inspiration not only from his sensational win over Verdasco couple of days ago, but also from the remarkable and monumental win he notched up against Novak Djokovic at the 2018 Australian Open.
Though playing against Nadal would be an extremely different ball-game altogether, his recent tussle against the southpaw Verdasco and a player slightly similar in style like Nadal would provide additional insights when he takes on the World No.2 in their upcoming encounter.
Against an upbeat Chung, Nadal would hope to get through unscathed and advance to the second week of the Slam to join his rivals Federer and Djokovic who cruised through their third-round matches with ease and comprehensive straight-sets victory over their opponents.
Nadal’s woes at last year’s US Open began in the third round when he met Karen Khachanov and had to work extremely hard to get past the Russian in four intense and dramatic sets. South Korea’s Chung can pose threats to the Spaniard with his resilience and willingness to engage in long baseline rallies.
With the presence of one of the emerging players on the other side of the net, the Spaniard would aim to bring out his best game possible in his upcoming encounter, thereby denying his opponent any chance of dictating the patterns of play at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Can Rafael Nadal get past his opponent with a routine victory to advance to the deciding week at the US Open or are we in store for any surprises as Chung prepares himself for the litmus test against the three-time US Open champion in their third-round encounter on day 6 of the US Open?
We just can’t wait for the action to get underway at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in straight sets.Published 31 Aug 2019, 13:33 IST