Chung makes the semi-finals
Originally published on 24/01/18 00:00
The exciting 21-year-old is the first Korean to make it to the last four of a Grand Slam and he is the youngest player in eight years to be within a single victory of the championship match at a major.
After the euphoria surrounding his outstanding successes over Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic, Chung had to deal with a different sort of pressure against Sandgren.
The Korean was expected to prevail, and he coped admirably with the favourites' tag. He didn’t quite replicate the type of form that left the former world No.1 exasperated on Monday evening, but it doesn’t matter, he got the job done.
He will encounter either Roger Federer or Tomas Berdych on Friday with a place in the final up for grabs.
Sandgren, who lost in qualifying as he attempted to make the main draw in Melbourne 12 months ago, enjoyed a remarkable run to the last eight that included triumphs over Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem.
His participation at the business end of the tournament was entirely unexpected – especially considering he had never registered a win at a Grand Slam prior to last week.
The American had made an average of 75 per cent of first serves en route to the quarter-finals, but his prized asset misfired when he needed it most. He made just over half of his first serves against the Korean – and it was never going to be good enough.
It was Chung who made the stronger opening. He enjoyed baseline supremacy and his piercing groundstrokes helped him take the opening stanza by six games to four.
Sandgren had found it difficult to stay with his youthful opponent in the prolonged and protracted rallies. He tried to respond in the second set, but a backhand dumped into the middle of the net cost him his serve immediately.
Chung had a firm grip of the match and the lack of atmosphere inside the Rod Laver Arena was partially due to his dominance. Just when it looked like the contest may be losing its competitive edge, the Korean slipped up.
The 21-year-old entered a difficult period and his forehand began to leak errors. A further three breaks were traded before a tiebreak was required to settle a scrappy passage of play.
Sandgren, who faltered when serving for the second set, was proactive in the shootout. He repeatedly advanced forward in an attempt to shorten the points, but it was still not enough.
Chung always appeared to be one step ahead, and a fizzing forehand arrowed down the line effectively sealed the set for the youngster.
The American looked devastated as he meandered to his chair. His chance to restore parity had gone, and his hopes of winning the match had all but disappeared too.
A weary-looking Sandgren took greater risks in the third set – and there was the occasional flashy winner. He dropped serve in the fourth game though, and the match appeared to be heading to a rapid conclusion.
Sandgren saved a match-point on his serve before holding for 3-5, and it was left to Chung to complete the formalities. All appeared to be going well for the world No.58 when he established a 40-0 lead, however nerves soon intervened.
In the final game, the Korean was forced to save two break-points and it took him until his sixth match-point before finally settling matters. Relief rather joy was his overwhelming emotion as he saluted the capacity crowd.