Roger and the 62-minute ride

30 Korean ten­nis prodigy forced to with­draw due to ‘blis­ters on blis­ters’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

MELBOURNE: Ruth­less Roger Fed­erer handed wounded Chung Hyeon an old-fash­ioned school­ing be­fore the over­whelmed South Korean quit with foot blis­ters trail­ing 6-1 5-2 in a damp squib of an Aus­tralian Open semi-fi­nal yes­ter­day.

Fed­erer was de­tained for only 62 min­utes un­der the Rod Laver Arena roof as he set up a fi­nal against big-serv­ing Croat Marin Cilic who pum­melled an­other young gun, Kyle Ed­mund, on Thurs­day.

It is the sixth time Fed­erer has reached a grand slam fi­nal with­out drop­ping a set.

Al­though happy to con­serve en­ergy for to­mor­row’s fi­nal, and even make it out in time for a spot of din­ner, the 36-yearold de­fend­ing cham­pion said it had been a “bit­ter sweet” vic­tory.

“I must ad­mit, you do take the faster matches when­ever you can be­cause there’s enough wear and tear on the body,” Fed­erer told re­porters. “When they hap­pen, you take them.

“I’m just happy I’m in the fi­nal, to be hon­est. That was the goal be­fore the match to­day. Not un­der the cir­cum­stances I was hop­ing to (reach the fi­nal)...

“He strug­gled clearly with his move­ment. I wish him a good re­cov­ery.”

It was an anti- cli­mac­tic end for Chung, who played su­perbly to beat fourth seed Alexan­der Zverev in five sets in round three and even better in a straight sets win over six- times cham­pion No­vak Djokovic in the round of 16.

The 21-year-old was joined in the post-match news con­fer­ence by his agent Stu­art Duguid, who ex­plained what had hap­pened.

“It’s worse than reg­u­lar blis­ters. Over the last few days, it was blister un­der blister un­der blister,” he said.

“He had it shaved off. Now it’s red raw. They tried in­jec­tions to see if it numbed the pain. It didn’t work.”

“I re­ally hurt. I can’t walk no more,” Chung added.

Fed­erer ad­mit­ted af­ter his quar­ter- fi­nal vic­tory over To­mas Berdych that he knew lit­tle about Chung’s counter-punch­ing game, hav­ing never faced him be­fore.

He had ob­vi­ously done some home­work though as he swarmed all over the world num­ber 58 from the first game, feast­ing on Chung’s pow­der puff serve to break im­me­di­ately af­ter choos­ing to re­ceive first hav­ing won the coin toss.

Bash­ing win­ners for fun he re­peated the trick twice to grab the open­ing set in 33 min­utes.

When Chung held serve for 1-1 in the sec­ond set, a huge cheer erupted from an Aus­tralia Day crowd who had hoped to wit­ness a clas­sic bat­tle of the gen­er­a­tions.

But Chung, nick­named ‘the pro­fes­sor’ mainly be­cause of his schol­arly white spec­ta­cles but also be­cause of a ma­tu­rity be­yond his years, had no an­swer to Fed­erer’s fire­power.

With his move­ment and de­fen­sive skills – his big­gest weapons – com­pro­mised he was a sit­ting duck as Fed­erer racked up 24 win­ners in the 57 points he re­quired for vic­tory.

Fed­erer broke for 3-1 with a dip­ping back­hand pass and when Chung needed treat­ment on his foot blis­ters af­ter los­ing the next game, his hopes of be­com­ing the first South Korean to reach a grand slam fi­nal al­ready looked for­lorn.

Chung won one more game but af­ter Fed­erer held for 5-2 he walked to the net to of­fer his hand, de­part­ing the arena to sym­pa­thetic ap­plause and a smat­ter­ing of boos.

World num­ber two Fed­erer now turns his at­ten­tion to Cilic, who he has only lost to once in nine meet­ings.

The Croat’s sole vic­tory, how­ever, came in the U.S. Open semi-fi­nal in 2014 when he claimed his soli­tary ma­jor ti­tle.

AP PHOTO

THE EMO­TIONAL AND PHYS­I­CAL PAIN: Chung Hyeon re­ceives med­i­cal treat­ment for the blis­ters on his feet at the Rod Laver Arena. “I re­ally hurt. I can’t walk no more,” he said at the press con­fer­ence.

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