Grand Slam Tennis: Fairy Tales Do Come True, Even Happen for Two
In every Grand Slam Tennis tournament, what captures our imagination and gets the presses churning are the fairy tale runs of unheralded players and the upsets they create. For us here in Asia, a sidebar story would be seeing a player from our part of the world crack through to the later stages. For some six years now, that has been pretty much the sole domain of Japanese Kei Nishikori, who has made the Grand Slam Quarters several times, and has reached the Finals of the US Open, but lost. But the ongoing Aussie Open has created two wonderful fairy tales that unfortunately will have one coming to a close by the end of play on Wednesday.
Upsetting Djokovic, it's Korean Chung Hyeon!
Upsetting his tennis idol Novak Djokovic in straight sets, and reaching the bottom half Quarterfinals is 21-year-old Korean Chung Hyeon. The current Next Gen Finals champion, Chung admittedly toppled a Djokovic coming back from injury, and playing with a taped elbow. But don't take anything away from Chung, as to reach this far he also beat both of the Zverev brothers. Looking like he would be more at home commuting from a Seoul accounting firm, Chung has surprised all the tennis pundits, playing in a measured, very controlled style which mirrors his idol Djokovic, plus showcasing a rock solid defense that has his opponents looking for a chink in the armor in frustration.
The aptly named American Tennys Sandgren, and he's from Tennessee
By the luck of the draw, opposite the net on Wednesday will be the second fairy tale of the tournament: American journeyman Tennys Sandgren. 26 years of age, Tennys has the sad sack countenance of a used car salesman; but with his crazy bent service that defies logic and geometry, he's forced his opponents wide and has consistently swooped in for the kill. Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem are among the seeded scalps he has claimed on his way to the Quarterfinals.
The other Quarterfinal in this half of the draw sees Roger Federer meeting Thomas Berdych. So when the smoke clears on Wednesday night, I know I'll be rooting for Chung to come through and keep the Asian flag flying. That would be a fairy tale Semifinal for Friday: Federer vs. Chung. And yes, Rafa Nadal is still alive, at the time I write this, in the top half of the draw.
Photo from www.ausopen.com