Next Gen Champ Chung Continues Surge
Combining power and precision with a burgeoning confidence on the big stages, inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung is through to the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open for the first time. Experienced Czech 12th seed Tomas Berdych was the 21-year-old’s latest victim on Monday night.
Unlike Chung’s previous match – in which he battled for nearly three hours to get past Dusan Lajovic – he cruised past Berdych 6-4, 6-4. It is his first victory in three FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings with the Czech and the first time he had even taken a set.
Chung had already tasted hard-court success on a big stage this season after he became the first South Korean to reach a Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open. His victims in Melbourne included Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic before a blister derailed his semi-final match against eventual champion Roger Federer.
Should Chung reach his his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final with a win over No. 30 seed Pablo Cuevas in the fourth round he could earn a hard-court rematch with Federer, provided the defending champion defeated unseeded Frenchman Jeremy Chardy next.
Against Berdych, Chung started the stronger breaking for 3-1 before being reeled in for 4-4. Crunching his service returns, Chung caught Berdych out of position to draw a forehand wide as he broke again for 5-4 and served out the opening set at the 41-minute mark.
Appearing at the BNP Paribas Open for the 14th straight year, 2013 Indian Wells semi-finalist Berdych had reached the quarter-finals or better at three of his four prior events, including the Australian Open.
Watch Full Match Replays
But after the Czech was broken early in the second set, it was Chung who carried the momentum to reach the round of 16 at an Masters 1000 event for the second time in his career (Montreal 2017).
His fourth-round opponent, Cuevas, is one win away from reaching back-to-back quarter-finals in Indian Wells. The Uruguayan was leading fifth seed Dominic Thiem 3-6, 6-4, 4-2 before the Austrian retired due to a right foot injury.
Cuevas was coming off a victory over #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov and had reached the quarter-finals of the Rio Open and semi-finals of the Brasil Open in Sao Paolo.
It brings the FedEx ATP Head2Head ledger between Thiem and Cuevas all square at 2-2.
Thiem had won both clashes in 2017 at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Madrid and Rome. The result also ensures top seed and defending champion Roger Federer will not meet an opponent seeded in the Top 10 before at least the semi-finals with No. 23 Chung the highest remaining.