Chung Hyeon earns grand slam singles victory; first for S. Korean in 7 yrs

September 2, 2015
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

(Yonhap) — Chung Hyeon became the first South Korean tennis player in seven years to win a grand slam singles match on Tuesday in New York.

In the first round of the U.S. Open, the world No. 69 dispatched the 95th-ranked James Duckworth 6-3, 6-1, 6-2. The 19-year-old is the first South Korean to win a match at one of the four major tennis championships since Lee Hyung-taik won a first-round match at the 2008 French Open.

Chung won the opening set 6-3 and needed only 22 minutes to take the second set 6-1. He built a quick 2-0 lead in the third set and recorded six aces en route to the breezy victory.

Chung committed just one unforced error all match, and Duckworth failed to break the South Korean once.

In June, Chung made his grand slam debut at Wimbledon but lost a five-set match to Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

In the second round, Chung will face fifth-seeded Stan Wawrinka, who defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-5, 6-4, 7-6.

Wawrinka, ranked fifth in the world, is a two-time grand slam winner, and he will be the highest-ranked opponent Chung has faced.

Wawrinka won the 2014 Australian Open and the 2015 French Open. He has yet to go past the semifinals at the U.S. Open, and reached the quarterfinals last year.

Chung said it had been his goal all season to win a grand slam match, and the victory still hadn’t hit him.

Chung insisted, however, this was no time to celebrate.

“The championship is not over yet, and I will use all the energy that I have left to keep playing well,” he said. “I tried not to think too much about winning or losing this one. I figured I wouldn’t have any regrets as long as I gave my best on the court.”

Chung said he didn’t watch Wawrinka play live but said he will have to contend with Wawrinka’s “heavy” one-handed backhand.

Wawrinka, asked about his next opponent, said he knew little about the South Korean teenager.

“I know his ranking, what he did this year, but never had a chance to see him play live or on TV,” Wawrinka said. “My coach did a few times this year, so I’m going to talk with him.”

Park Yong-gook, who coaches the South Korean semi-pro club NH Nonghyup Bank, predicted Chung will not back down so easily.

“When Chung played the top-10 players Marin Cilic and Tomas Berdych, he held his own in ground strokes,” Park noted. “But those players are all great with their serves, and they’re tough to break. Winning in the first round should give Chung a huge boost of confidence, and if he can play a good match against Wawrinka, it will help him even more.”