Nadal Sprints Past Chung At US Open
Second seed Rafael Nadal wasted no time getting down to business on Saturday at the US Open, requiring just under two hours to defeat South Korean qualifier Hyeon Chung 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in their third-round clash.
"I'm happy to be in the fourth round one more time," Nadal said in his on-court interview. "This court is so unique and special with the energy that the crowd brings."
Nadal is unbeaten (3-0) against Chung in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series and has won all seven sets they've played. He now faces No. 14 seed John Isner of the United States or former US Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia, the No. 22 seed. Nadal leads Isner 7-1 and Cilic 6-2 in their respective FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalries.
Despite the loss, Chung can be pleased with his efforts this tournament. The inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals champion in 2017 returned to action last month after sitting out since February with a back injury. He came through the qualifying draw in New York and scored back-to-back five-set wins over American Ernesto Escobedo and Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the main draw.
"When he's healthy, he showed how good he is to everyone. He's had injuries and, from my personal experience, I know how tough it is to be injured," Nadal said. "It's a great event for him and I wish him a healthy career. That's the most important thing."
A backhand sent just wide from Chung at 2-3 gave the Spaniard the first break of the match. The slight advantage was all the three-time US Open champion needed and he fired an ace on set point. Although Chung's level increased in the second set and he finished it with an equal number of winners to unforced errors (8), a single break at 2-2 helped propel Nadal to a commanding two-set advantage.
But after spending 13 hours on court in New York as he entered the third set against Nadal, the backlog of tennis finally caught up with Chung and his level dropped. Nadal increased the pace on his shots in the closing stages of the match, firing a forehand winner on match point to send him into Week 2 of the US Open for the 11th time.
"It's always tough to play against one of the best players in the world, but I'm just trying to do my best," Chung said. "Today is not my day, but I'm really happy to play in New York after the injury."