Chung: ‘I’m Just Happy To Play Again’
There are three ATP Tour events this week with many of the world’s biggest stars in action. One player in the Eugene Korea Open Tennis Championships doubles draw sticks out: Hyeon Chung.
The South Korean, who won the 2017 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals and advanced to the Australian Open semi-finals less than three months later, has not competed since September 2020 due to a back injury. Chung is making his return on the doubles court alongside countryman Soonwoo Kwon.
“Due to my injuries, I needed to [stay on the] sideline over the [past] few years and then finally I made it back on court again,” Chung said. “I’m feeling just so happy to play tennis again.”
According to Chung, his lower back injury required constant treatment and rehab, which is why he was unable to compete since Roland Garros qualifying in 2020. He only played six matches at all levels that year.
“I had to treat it and rehab, treat and rehab all the time,” Chung said. “Then [it was] training, training, training and rehab for like [the whole] two years.”
Although Chung is only playing doubles this week, he is soon making his singles return. The South Korean plans to play on the ATP Challenger Tour in his home country in the coming weeks and see how that goes.
“[My] first goal for sure is [to suffer] no injuries, so staying healthy,” Chung said. “This is my first competition after two years, so I don’t want to rush, I don’t want to push too hard.”
It is not long ago Chung was one of the fastest-rising players on the ATP Tour. After his run to the Australian Open semi-finals in 2018, he soon reached a career-high No. 19 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Now he does not have a ranking at all.
But Chung, who has missed the competition the most during his time away, is remaining patient and enjoying this moment as he begins his journey back towards the sop of the sport.
“[There are] many feelings coming together, like happiness and a little bit nervousness because I didn’t play for two years,” Chung said. “But I’m just happy to play again, especially at home where I live in Seoul.”