ATP Korea Open gets underway in Seoul
Hong Seong-chan is out of the Eugene Korea Open after losing to Kaichi Uchida of Japan in two straight sets 6-2, 6-4 on Monday.
Hong is No. 445 in the world rankings while Uchida is No. 163. Both had entered the Korea Open as wildcards. For the entirety of the one-hour-22-minute match, Hong was unable to break any of Uchida’s serves while Uchida broke three of Hong’s.
Hong had four aces while Uchida had three, but Hong had four double faults while Uchida only had one.
Tuesday was the third time the two players had faced each other. Uchida has beaten Hong on all three occasions.
Hong’s match against Uchida was the fourth on the first day of the Eugene Korea Open.
The ATP Tour landed at Olympic Park Tennis Center in southern Seoul on Monday with the Eugene Korea Open to pick up where the women’s event came to a close on Sunday.
This year marks the first time in 26 years that Korea has hosted an ATP 250 event.
The top seeds are Casper Ruud of Norway, Cameron Norrie of Great Britain, Taylor Fritz of the United States, Denis Shapovalov of Canada, Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia and Jenson Brooksby of the United States. Sixth seed Borna Coric of Croatia withdrew from the match due to an ankle injury and is replaced by lucky loser Hiroki Moriya of Japan.
Of the six Koreans in the Korea Open, Hong, Kwon Soon-woo, Chung Yun-seong and Nam Ji-sung entered the Eugene Korea Open men’s singles. Kwon is the only Korean in the main draw l, while Nam and Hong entered as wildcards. Chung made his way through the qualifiers for the first time in his career, beating Dalibor Svrcina of the Czech Republic two sets to one on Saturday then beating Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan in two straight sets on Sunday.
Chung Hyeon and Song Min-kyu will be joining Kwon and Nam respectively for the men’s doubles. At the Korea Open, Chung Hyeon comes back on the court after being out of the competition for two years due to a series of injuries.
Chung Hyeon once reached the highest-ever world ranking of any Korean, making it up to No. 19 in May of 2019 after reaching the semifinals of the 2018 Australian Open.
That year, Chung Hyeon become the first Korean player ever to advance past the fourth round of a Grand Slam event, but did so by smashing through then-No. 4 Alexander Zverev and No. 1 Novak Djovokic. He beat Djokovic in straight sets, the Serbian’s first loss in straight sets since 2007.
Chung faced Roger Federer in that semifinal but was forced to withdraw due to foot blisters.
That was the first of a series of injuries that continued into the next year and Chung Hyeon quickly slid down the world rankings after he stopped competing in October, 2020.
“I am nervous because it’s been a very long time coming,” said Chung. “It took me a long time to rehabilitate and come back on the court. But I am happy with just the fact that I can, I can’t predict what will happen here or the results but I will do my best.”
Chung entered the men’s doubles as a wild card this week and will be pairing up with countryman Kwon. This is their first time competing as a pair since 2016.
“I played alongside Kwon in China many years ago but it’s been such a long time since,” said Chung during a pre-match interview on Monday. “My strategy for the doubles is to play without one. People think that I didn’t play doubles in the past because I am bad at it but I actually want to let people know that I am a decent doubles player.”
No. 121 Kwon is currently the top tennis player in Korea and enters the tournament after spending a full season with 38 tournaments including four Grand Slams and the Davis Cup this year.
Kwon was initially scheduled to face Brandon Nakashima of the United States for his first round but the American dropped out of the tournament after advancing to the finals at the San Diego Open.
Kwon is currently scheduled to play his singles match on Tuesday and the doubles match on Wednesday.
“I think we make a competitive team,” said Kwon on Monday. “Chung has a good ball speed and we are both strong in our strokes and returns so I think we can play well against any team.
I agree with Chung in that our plan is to not have one. I think we can do well if we stick to our style of play.”
In the singles, Kwon will face countryman Chung Yun-seong for the men’s singles. Their head-to-head record is two to one, in favor of Chung Yun-seong.
“I’ve practiced a lot and played a lot of matches against Chung Yun-seong before,” said Kwon. “Of course, I am not guaranteed to win and so I have some pressure but I am sure that I can play a fun match. For the fans, it will be an interesting match because its between two Korean players. ”
The Eugene Korea Open will continue to Oct. 2.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [email@example.com]