Hyeon Chung withdraws from Little Rock to delay the comeback


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Hyeon Chung withdraws from Little Rock to delay the comeback

The 23-year-old Korean Hyeon Chung, one of the most promising youngsters fro those strong generations born after 1994, had entered the top-100 at the age of 18 in 2015 and finished that season just outside the top-50 after winning four Challenger titles!

Hyeon's progress was halted in 2016, dealing with injuries and winning only six matches in the ATP tournaments by Roland Garros, sidelined for the next three months with an abdominal injury. Returning in September ranked outside the top-140, Hyeon conquered two Challenger titles to end the year on the verge of the top-100, ready to challenge the players from the top-50 again in 2017.

Hyeon certainly did that, reaching the first ATP semi-final in Munich (Rafael Nadal defeated him in Barcelona in the previous week) and achieving the best results at Grand Slams and Masters 1000 events to crack the top-50 for the first time in a career.

Nonetheless, the Korean couldn't play injury-free during the entire season once again, missing the whole grass swing with a left ankle injury and also skipping Tokyo and Shanghai before going all the way at the inaugural NextGen Masters in Milan where he defeated Andrey Rublev to close the season on a high note.

Hungry for more, Hyeon opened the 2018 season with a brilliant run in Melbourne, toppling Novak Djokovic en route to his first Grand Slam semi-final where he was forced to retire against Roger Federer due to severe left foot blisters.

The youngest Grand Slam semi-finalist in eight years had to miss the next couple of weeks to recover and he went on to reach the quarters at both Indian Wells and Miami, finding himself in the top-20 for the first time in April.

After positive vibes in March, more serious news waited just around the corner as Hyeon had to stay away from almost the entire clay and grass season due to a lower leg injury, playing only Munich and Madrid and making a slow return in Atlanta at the end of July.

The ranking was still there but the results were not, winning just nine matches by the end of the season that he had to conclude earlier than expected due to right foot blisters. Still ranked in the top-25 thanks to those Australian Open points, the Korean spent the offseason in Thailand, working on his physical strength and on developing tools to play more aggressively in 2019.

Also, he explored the solutions for those blisters that have been bothering him since his early tennis days, looking for proper shoes that would help him to play without problems in the future. That wasn't his only concern, though, feeling the back pain for months and making a plodding start of 2019, competing in just five matches and none since Rotterdam!

With just 45 points gained in the first five months, the Korean is ranked outside the top-150 for the first time since February 2015 and there's no light at the end of the tunnel for him at the moment, withdrawing from Roland Garros qualifications and missing the second Grand Slam of the season for the second straight year.

Also, Hyeon was supposed to be the second seed at the next week's inaugural Baptist Health Little Rock Open but had to withdraw just before the start of the action, still not ready to compete. At the moment, no one can tell when we are going to see Chung on the court again but things don't look promising for the talented youngster, staying away from all the events in the last four months even though he was in the draw of some of them before deciding to make a last-minute quit.

Chung has no points to defend until July and should gain positions on the ranking list if he manages to get back on the court in the next couple of weeks, which doesn't seem likely at this point.