Twenty One year old Hyeon Chung became the first South Korean player in history to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final after beating six-time champion Novak Djokovic 7-6(4),7-5,7-6(3) in Melbourne as the 25 year old American Tennys Sandgren continued his Cinderella run with a five set upset win over the fifth seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem 6-2,4-6,7-6(4),6-7(7),6-3 on Monday. Defending champion Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych also advanced in straight sets to set up a rematch of last years round of 32 match.
Chung, who won the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals last year, squandered leads of 4-0,4-1 and 3-1 in the first, second and third sets respectively against the former World number One but managed to stay calm at the business end of all the three sets against the Serb who was in his first tournament since Wimbledon 2017 nursing a right elbow injury. The Korean ranked 58th in the world now faces Tennys Sandgren on Wednesday in the quarter-final.
Tennys Sandgren, ranked 97th in the world, failed to convert a match point opportunity at 6-5 in the fourth set tie-break, the 26 year old from Gallatin, Tennesse, held his nerve to emerge victorious to record a 6-2,4-6,7-6(4),6-7(7),6-3 against the fifth seeded Austrian in what was his first career five set match. He also becomes the first player since France’s Nicolas Escude in 1998 to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals on his main-draw debut.
Having broken into the Top 100 of the ATP rankings for the first time in September 2017, Sandgren who turned pro in 2011, had never gotten past the qualifying rounds in the first grand slam tournament of the year. He had earlier taken out the 2014 champion Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland in straight sets in the second round.
Sandgren won the opening set breaking serve twice, but Thiem levelled the match. Sandgren then let slip a 1-3 lead in the third set but held his nerve to clinch a tie-break. Thiem hit a backhand winner down match point at 5-6 in the fourth set tie-break. A forehand winner from Thiem and a forehand error from Sandgren took the match into a decider. The American then broke in the sixth game for a 4-2 lead. Serving at 74% first serve, the American had 20 aces in the match. Hitting 63 winners, he secured the victory in three hours and 54 minutes.
Those results completely overshadowed Roger Federer’s 52nd entry into the quarter-final of a grand slam tournament as he defeated the unheralded Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 6-4,7-6(3),6-2. In 2002, the Swiss maestro beat Attila Savolt who is now Fucsovics’s coach in the second round. Federer also reached his 14th Australian Open quarter-finals, a tournament which he has won in 2004, 2006 and 2007, 2010 and in 2017.
The 19 time Grandslam winner next faces familiar foe Tomas Berdych against whom he holds a 19-6 record in career meetings as the 32 year old Czech who lives in Monte Carlo made short work of the 25th seeded Italian Fabio Fognini 6-1,6-4,6-4 to advance to the last eight for the seventh time in his career.
The 19th seeded Czech improved to 44-14 in Melbourne to set up a fifth meeting between the two at Flinder’s Park. “Mr. Consistent” who has finished in the Top 20 of the ATP Rankings for 12 consecutive seasons now has a chance to avenge his third round loss at the season’s first Grand Slam. Federer has won all four previous meetings in Melbourne in 2008,2009,2016 and 2017 and has won their past eight contests. Berdych though defeated Federer at the Olympics in Athens in 2004, at Wimbledon in 2010 and at the U.S. Open in 2012 and also held match points against Federer in Miami last year before losing.
Following is the Quarter final lineup in the men’s section with my pick mentioned first :-
Rafael Nadal (1) v. Marin Cilic (6); Nadal leads 5-1
Grigor Dimitrov (3) v. Kyle Edmund (-) ; Dimitrov leads 2-0
Roger Federer (2) v. Tomas Berdych (19); Federer leads 19-6
Hyeon Chung (-) v. Tennys Sandgren (-); Chung leads 1-0
In the women’s section of the draw, top ranked Simona Halep of Romania, sixth seeded Elina Svitolina, the 2016 champion Angelique Kerber and the American Madison Keys advanced to the last eight. Halep and Keys both recorded 6-3,6-2 wins over Japan’s Naomi Osaka and the Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia respectively.
Kerber, former world number one who has slipped to sixteen in the WTA rankings and is seeded 21, rallied from a set down to end the giant killing run of Su-Wei Hsieh of Chinese Taipei 4-6,7-5,6-2. Hsieh had earlier beaten the reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain and Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland looked set for another upset but the two time Grand Slam champion broke in the twelfth game of the second set and looked in complete command in the third set.
In the last match of the day which ended past 1:30AM in Melbourne, the sixth seeded Elina Svitolina beat Barbora Strycova 6-7(5),6-3,6-2 in all Czech Republic match up to set up a clash against Halep.
Following is the line up in the ladies Quarter final with my pick mentioned first:-
Caroline Wozniacki (2) v. Carla Suarez Navarro (-)
Elina Svitolina (4) v. Elise Mertens (-)
Madison Keys (17) v. Angelique Kerber (21)
Simona Halep (1) v. Karolina Pliskova (6)
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]