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(2nd LD) S. Korean Chung Hyeon loses to Djokovic at Australian Open

All News 16:55 January 18, 2016

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SEOUL, Jan. 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korean teenager Chung Hyeon fell to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in straight sets in the opening round of the Australian Open tennis championships Monday.

Djokovic, the five-time champ of the season's first grand slam event, dispatched the 52nd-ranked Chung 3-0 (6-3, 6-2, 6-4) at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.

Chung, 19, is the highest-ranked South Korean male tennis player. This was his first match against Djokovic, his childhood idol, and also his first appearance at the Australian Open. The last South Korean to compete at the Australian Open was Lee Hyung-taik in 2008.

In the opening set, each player held his serve until Djokovic, up 3-2, finally broke Chung to open a 4-2 lead.

Chung returned the favor by breaking Djokovic in the next game, with the world No. 1 hitting his forehand long to hand the game to the South Korean.

Chung was up 40-30 serving in the next game with a chance to draw even, but a double fault and back-to-back forehand misses allowed Djokovic to break him and move ahead 5-3.

Djokovic then held his serve to take the first set 6-3 after 40 minutes.

Djokovic broke Chung to open the second set and held his serve to go up 2-0. Chung had a chance to cut the deficit but blew a 30-15 lead to fall to 3-0.

Djokovic won the next game, before Chung finally got on board by holding his serve to make it 4-1. The game went to deuce eight times before Chung finished it with an ace.

Unfazed, Djokovic easily won the next game to move ahead 5-1. After giving away a game, the Serbian recovered to close out the set at 6-2 in 41 minutes.

It was much the same tale in the third set, as Djokovic broke Chung to start things off and held his serve for a quick 2-0 advantage.

Chung recovered to make it 2-1. The players each held their serves until the score got to 5-4. Then serving for the match, Djokovic earned four quick points to close out Chung, the final point coming on a cross-court forehand winner.

Chung only broke Djokovic once, while making only five aces to Djokovic's 10. The South Korean also made more unforced errors, 29 to 27.

Djokovic drilled 40 winners to Chung's 16 and converted all 15 of his net points, compared with five points at the net for Chung.

Chung tried to match Djokovic groundstroke for groundstroke in early rallies, but his inconsistent forehand was his undoing.

Chung said afterward facing the world No. 1 was "a great experience."

"It was an honor to play against Novak Djokovic, who is my idol, and I learned a lot today," Chung told South Korean pool reporters in Melbourne. "He didn't miss a lot of shots, and I came away motivated to try harder."

Chung said it was difficult enough to try to win a game and he tried to take it one point at a time.

"This was a great test to start the new season," he added. "When I got the draws, I was excited but was also nervous at the same time, because I'd be playing at Rod Laver Arena. It was a mixed bag of emotions for me. And I had so many butterflies in my stomach this morning I couldn't eat my breakfast."

Chung said he doesn't have specific goals to reach in terms of world rankings, but he wants to perform well for the country at the this year's Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Djokovic said he saw plenty of promise for the South Korean.

"Chung is only 19, and he plays well from the back of the court," he said during an on-court interview. "He's one of the rising stars. He has a very solid game from the baseline. He obviously needs more experience but he's got the game to be at the top. I wish him all the best."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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