Chung Hyeon apologizes to fans after early exit at Australian Open

January 17, 2019

- South Korean tennis player Chung Hyeon was apologetic to his supporters on Thursday after getting knocked out of the second round at the Australian Open.

A year after marching into the semifinals to shock the tennis world, Chung crashed and burned in just his second match at this year’s tournament. The 24th seed fell to the unseeded Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert by 3-1 (6-2, 1-6, 6-2, 6-4) at Melbourne Arena.

In this Associated Press photo, Chung Hyeon of South Korea hits a return against Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France during their men's singles match at the Australian Open at Melbourne Arena in Melbourne on Jan. 17, 2019. (Yonhap)
In this Reuters photo, Chung Hyeon of South Korea (L) and Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France shake hands after their second-round match in the men's singles at the Australian Open at Melbourne Arena in Melbourne on Jan. 17, 2019. (Yonhap)

In this Associated Press photo, Chung Hyeon of South Korea hits a return against Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France during their men’s singles match at the Australian Open at Melbourne Arena in Melbourne on Jan. 17, 2019. (Yonhap)

“Herbert served really well and he took the first set too easily,” Chung said. “I felt I responded well by winning the second set, but Herbert started pulling away early in the third set.”

With the first game under way in the second set, the match was suspended due to rain. Once play resumed about half an hour later, Chung went on to win the second set 6-1 and appeared to snatch back the momentum.

But it wasn’t meant to be for Chung, as Herbert dominated the South Korean over the next two sets.

“Just like in the first round, I had a lot of fans in the stands, and I am sorry that I couldn’t play a better match,” Chung said. “I’ll try to play better the next time.”

By becoming the first South Korean to reach the final four at a Grand Slam event last year, Chung sparked a nationwide interest in tennis. His matches became appointment viewing in his native country.

Asked if he felt the pressure to repeat last year’s performance, Chung said, “Once the tournament began, I tried not to worry about pressure and just focus on each and every match.”

Chung hinted that the heightened expectations did affect him. He said he had mixed feelings about his second-round exit, adding “I am disappointed but also relieved.”

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