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Hyeon Chung vs Taylor Fritz BB&T Atlanta Open tennis live: Chung returns from ankle injury to launch U.S. Open Series in Atlanta

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 24 Jul 2018
  • Hyeon Chung vs Taylor Fritz is live from Atlanta at 11.00am local time on Wednesday (4.00pm BST)
  • First career meeting between the pair
Hyeon Chung (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Hyeon Chung plays his first match in almost three months when he launches his BB&T Atlanta Open campaign on Wednesday against fellow young gun Taylor Fritz in the second round.

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Sidelined with an ankle injury since the Madrid Masters, rising South Korean star Hyeon Chung returns to action at the BB&T Atlanta Open on Wednesday against American youngster Taylor Fritz. Chung was in the middle of compiling an outstanding season when an ankle injury surfaced during the clay season and ultimately forced him to miss the French Open and Wimbledon - but the 22-year-old is back in Atlanta after taking a late wildcard into the tournament to kick off his U.S. Open Series. First up for Chung is fellow rising star Fritz, who has been playing some solid tennis this season and is targeting his second Atalanta quarter-final after reaching the last eight in 2016. Chung and Fritz take to court at 11.00am local time on Wednesday (4.00pm BST).

In the midst of an extremely consistent and impressive season, Chung’s rapid progress up the rankings was temporarily derailed because of injury during the European clay season.

After securing the inaugural ATP Next Gen Finals title in Milan at the end of last season, Chung took his game to another level throughout the first quarter of 2018. In fact, ever since a second round exit to Kyle Edmund in Brisbane to launch the season, Chung made at least the quarter-finals of every single tournament he contested prior to a first round loss in Madrid - where his injured ankle flared up during a straight sets defeat to Robin Haase and ultimately caused him to miss the remainder of the clay season and the entire grass swing, including Wimbledon.

Indeed, Chung had registered the second most wins out of anyone on tour after the Miami Masters. Long hailed as one of the brightest young prospects on the ATP World Tour, Chung made the ASB Classic quarter-finals in Auckland before becoming the first South Korean in history to make a Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open, taking out Sydney champion Daniil Medvedev, coming back to beat Alexander Zverev 6-0 in the fifth set and beating his idol Novak Djokovic in straight sets. Terrible blisters on his feet forced Chung to retire in the semis against eventual champion Roger Federer, but the 22-year-old well and truly announced himself as a star of the present - and Chung continued his momentum onto North American hardcourts, reaching the quarter-finals of Delray Beach, Acapulco, Indian Wells and Miami, while he also made the semi-finals of the BMW Open on the clay of Munich before his ankle issue became too much to deal with.

Having hit a career-high ranking of No. 19 on the back of his remarkable consistency, Chung - fortunately - hasn’t slipped too much during his injury lay-off, arriving in Atlanta for the start of his U.S. Open Series at No. 23. Can the South Korean mark his return to the tour with a victory on Wednesday? He will have to beat another rising star of men’s tennis in order to do so.

Taylor Fritz (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
After making the final of the Memphis Open, reaching the quarter-finals in Acapulco and the second round of the Miami Masters, Taylor Fritz soared to No. 53 in the world during the first quarter of 2016. It was a monumental and sudden rise for the teenager, who was ranked 694 towards the end of 2015, with Fritz thrown into the same bracket of young players such as Alexander Zverev, Borna Coric and Hyeon Chung that were being talked about as future Grand Slam champions. 

However, Fritz would only win six ATP matches for the rest of 2016, while his struggles on the court continued into the first half of 2017, with the 20-year-old’s only highlight being a third round run at Indian Wells as his ranking dipped outside the top 130. However, Fritz - who also married and became a father last year - picked things up towards the end of 2017, making quarter-finals during the U.S. Open Series in Los Cabos and Winston-Salem, while he also made the second round of the U.S. Open and the quarter-finals of Chengdu to finish the season back inside the top 100.

There’s no doubt Fritz - like so many players from the USA - does his best work on North American hardcourts, with the 22-year-old winning the Newport Challenger title at the start of 2018, along with making the fourth round of the Indian Wells Masters (beating Andrey Rublev and Fernando Verdasco) and the semi-finals of the ATP event in Houston. Fritz can struggle to perform in Europe, and apart from a quarter-final showing in Lyon, he failed to win back-to-back matches on clay and grass - although he did produce an impressive display in stretching Alexander Zverev to five sets in the second round of Wimbledon.

This will be the first meeting between the pair, and it promises to be an entertaining tussle. We can’t expect Chung to be firing and immediately recapture the sort of form he was delivering at the start of the year, and that’s why I give Fritz the edge on Wednesday. The American typically flourishes in these conditions and loves playing at home on hardcourts. He also already has a win over recent Newport runner-up Ramkumar Ramanathan under his belt this week, while Chung received a first round bye as the third seed. Chung is the better player at this stage, but he hasn’t had any match practice in three months and Fritz is a good enough in this type of environment to take advantage.

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Hyeon Chung vs Taylor Fritz BB&T Atlanta Open tennis live: Chung returns from ankle injury to launch U.S. Open Series in Atlanta

Hyeon Chung plays his first match in almost three months when he launches his BB&T Atlanta Open campaign on Wednesday against fellow young gun Taylor Fritz in the second round.

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