Chung aims to be '100 per cent' ready for Federer

Chung Hyeon hitting a backhand against Pablo Cuevas during their Indian Wells last-16 match. Chung won in straight sets to take his win-loss record for the year to 15-5.
Chung Hyeon hitting a backhand against Pablo Cuevas during their Indian Wells last-16 match. Chung won in straight sets to take his win-loss record for the year to 15-5.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

INDIAN WELLS (California) • Less than two months after a burst blister forced him to retire from the Australian Open, South Korean Chung Hyeon has earned another shot at Roger Federer in a rematch of their semi-final in Melbourne.

The 21-year-old defeated Uruguay's Pablo Cuevas 6-1, 6-3 on Wednesday in the Indian Wells Masters to advance to the quarter-final clash today (Singapore time).

The world No. 26 Chung, who is off to a 15-5 start this season and has reached the last eight in four of five tournaments, admitted that it will be tough going against the Swiss maestro when they meet for the second time.

"I'm just trying to (get to) 100 per cent in my tennis because Federer plays great tennis," he said after reaching his first Masters quarter-final. "He's playing really good this year so far. He's playing really fast and good serve, good baseline."

The 36-year-old Federer is off to one of his strongest career starts and is now 15-0 this year after his 7-5, 6-4 win over Jeremy Chardy.

In 2006, he was 16-0 before winning 33 of his first 34 matches.

The world No. 1 put on a serving clinic against Frenchman Chardy as he won 100 per cent of his first-serve points, the fifth time he has achieved the feat. He dropped just three points on his second serve.

On facing Chung, the defending champion said: "It's highly impressive what he does and he is going to be a great player.

"I was honestly quite surprised how quickly he came back. That thing (blister) looked nasty and takes some time to heal. I'm excited to play against him."

Chung is not the only Asian tennis star on the rise at Indian Wells.

Japan's Naomi Osaka has also impressed in California, stunning former world No. 1 and fifth seed Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 6-3 in the quarter-finals.

The world No. 44 declared that she is gunning for the records of her compatriot Kei Nishikori, who became Japan's first Grand Slam singles finalist at the 2014 US Open.

"I feel like I want to break records for male and female. I'm coming for Kei," she was quoted as saying on Sport360 after becoming the first woman from her country to make the semi-finals at a Premier Mandatory tournament.

She will face world No. 1 Simona Halep in the last four today, after the Romanian beat Croatia's Petra Martic 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ATP/WTA INDIAN WELLS
Men's q-finals: StarHub Ch201, 10am Women's q-finals: Ch203, 8am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2018, with the headline 'Chung aims to be '100 per cent' ready for Federer'. Print Edition | Subscribe