Chung, Zverev survive in five, again, at US Open

Published by Tennismash / Reuters

Fernando Verdasco in five sets to reach the third round at Flushing Meadows for the first time (Getty Images)
Comeback kid Hyeon Chung and No.6 seed Alexander Zverev each score their second straight five-set wins at Flushing Meadows to reach the US Open third round.

Hyeon Chung stormed back from two-sets-to-love down and 5-2 down in the fifth set to beat Fernando Verdasco, advancing to the third round of the US Open for the first time in his career.

Chung, the injury-plagued former world No.19 who is now ranked 170th, beat the 32nd seed 1-6 2-6 7-5 6-3 7-6(3) to set up a clash with No.2 seed Rafael Nadal.

Nadal was given a walkover into the third round after Australian opponent Thanasi Kokkinakis, another player who has struggled with frequent injuries, withdrew before the match due to a right pectoral complaint.

Chung was sidelined from February to July this year with a back injury, while a lower leg injury forced him to skip Roland Garros and Wimbledon last year. Later in 2018, severe blisters forced him to withdraw from several tournaments.

Since returning at a Challenger event in Chengdu, China, Chung has won 13 of 14 matches.

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A qualifier in New York, he trailed Ernesto Escobedo by two-sets-to-one in the first round, and has now extended his winning streak in New York to five matches.

The Korean joined No.6 seed Alexander Zverev in the third round after Zverev scored a five-set victory over Frances Tiafoe.

Zverev, who also required five sets to beat Radu Albot in round one, saw off Tiafoe 6-3 3-6 6-2 2-6 6-3 in a match lasting three hours and nine minutes.

Germany’s Zverev, who suffered a shock first-round defeat at the All-England Tennis Club last month, showed off his trademark endurance under the blistering sun on Arthur Ashe Stadium, saving eight of the 11 break points Tiafoe created.

Zverev, who fired down 22 aces, appeared exhausted after the match. “Frances gave me an unbelievable fight,” he said. “I’m just happy to get the win somehow. Sometimes I would like to win easier than always five sets.”

The 22-year-old was no stranger to his American opponent, leading him 3-1 in previous meetings, after they competed together in juniors competition.

Also advancing to the third round of the US Open were 14th seed John Isner, 15th seed David Goffin, No.20 seed Diego Schwartzman, No.24 seed Matteo Berrettini, Denis Shapovalov and Australian trio Nick Kyrgios, Alex de Minaur and Alexei Popyrin.

Another winner was fifth seed Daniil Medvedev, who struggled with cramps before eventually seeing off Hugo Dellien in four sets.

“I honestly don’t know how I (won),” Medvedev said. “At one moment in the match I thought ‘Okay, I cannot move anymore’.”

Medvedev also cramped up when he was on the brink of sealing the title in the Cincinnati final against David Goffin two weeks ago, on that occasion reeling off a string of aces to secure the win.

The Russian said he was optimistic that his body would be able to bounce back in time for his match on Friday against unseeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.

“I said straight after the match, cramps is not an injury. You just need to relax, to have a good sleep,” said Medvedev.

“I mean, we’re sportsmen. Your body reacts good the next day. At this moment I’m tired, but looking forward for tomorrow I think it should be okay.”

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