Lu Makes Winning Return in Seoul
The 32-year-old won his first matches after a six-month injury layoff at the $100,000 ATP Challenger Tour event
After missing six months due to injury, Yen-Hsun Lu is picking up where he left off at one of his most successful ATP Challenger Tour events.
Lu had been sidelined in 2016 due to an ongoing elbow problem that his doctor told him he “would need surgery for sooner or later.” After undergoing surgery in Australia in January, he was finally given clearance to resume practising a month ago.
The 32-year-old has launched his comeback at this week’s $100,000 ATP Challenger Tour event in Seoul, Korea, which he has fond memories of after his securing his 300th match win there last year. Gradually shaking off the rust in his first-round match on Tuesday against Di Wu, Lu finally prevailed after nearly two hours of play, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. He then won again on Thursday after easing past Ze Zhang, 6-3, 6-4.
“It's never easy to tell how the body will react and how well you’ll play after an injury layoff, but the fact that I can train at a high intensity and not feel any new discomfort is a good sign for my team and I,” said Lu. “I like the environment in Seoul. That comfort level allows me to focus on my game and my preparation, since I don't have to worry about external factors as much.”
Lu said he wanted to start his comeback in Seoul because he’s enjoyed his best results on hard courts and has had success here in the past. Although he believes competing on the ATP Challenger Tour will give him the best chance “to get my feeling back,” he knows he will have to perform on a top level in order to make a deep run this week.
“ATP Challenger Tour events have become much more competitive in the past decade,” he admitted. “It’s become a more important stepping stone for players because it’s a good way to face strong competition and earn good prize money.”
Lu’s next tournament will be next week’s ATP Challenger Tour event in Bangkok, Thailand, and he plans to resume a full schedule of playing afterwards. Even after 15 years on tour, the 32-year-old said hanging up his racquets wasn’t even a thought during his injury layoff.
“Retirement never crossed my mind during the process,” declared Lu. “As an athlete, there is always a chance for injury and you must at least try to come back when that happens. It's been a meaningful experience for me and something I can pass on to other players.”