Jung: 'It's Pretty Unbelievable'
Entering this week, Jason Jung had never won a match on the ATP World Tour. But on Wednesday, when he turned to the crowd at the Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open in Newport and put his hands in the air, the 29-year-old had broken new ground.
Jung defeated 2013 Newport champion Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 6-4 to reach his first tour-level quarter-final.
“It’s pretty unbelievable,” Jung told ATPWorldTour.com. “I’ve worked hard to get here. I think I’ve always believed I’ve had a game to be here, so it’s just cool to see the success playing out.”
It’s not a bad result for a player who did not start his professional career immediately after playing collegiate tennis, despite making the All-Big Ten Conference team twice at the University of Michigan. Instead, Jung began a job as a business analyst. But shortly thereafter, things changed when he was laid off.
“A lot of people said it was a good opportunity to go out and play,” Jung said. “I didn’t really know what to expect and at the beginning, it was really tough. I must have lost five first-round Futures [matches] and was traveling by myself. There were a couple of times when I wanted to quit. It was just so hard. It’s pretty amazing to me that I kept going and now I’m here.”
It's been a difficult path for Jung. At first he gave himself two years to see how he'd fare on the ATP World Tour. Ever since, he has reevaluated the situation at the end of each season and decided to continue pushing forward, despite never finishing one of his eight pro seasons inside the Top 150 of the ATP Rankings. What has motivated him to do so?
“Just the family behind me. I have a lot of friends and my coach. They’ve always believed in me and told me to keep going,” said Jung.
He started his 2018 campaign battling illness in January before reaching the semi-finals of an ATP Challenger Tour event in Dallas and triumphing for the third time at that level the next week in San Francisco.
“Since then, there have been a couple of ups and downs, but I think for the most part it’s my coach and friends and family, they’re just telling me to keep going.”
At Wimbledon, Jung made his Grand Slam main draw debut, advancing through qualifying, before losing to Frenchman Benoit Paire. Then Jung, who represents Chinese Taipei, received a wild card into this week’s grass-court ATP World Tour 250-level event.
“When you get a wild card for an event like this, it’s like playing with house money and just trying to enjoy it, and I think I’ve done a good job of that so far,” said Jung, who will play American Tim Smyczek for a spot in his first tour-level semi-final. “It’s a great opportunity for both of us.”
Regardless of the future outcome, Jung is pleased to have made it this far in Newport and to post one of the best weeks of his professional tennis career. And while on the surface, people will see that this is his maiden quarter-final, he knows that it is more than just a result.
“I guess you could say it’s an overnight success, but this is many years in the making. There was a lot of struggle through this process,” Jung said. “I’ve worked hard to be in this position.”