Is Hyeon Chung at the head of the queue of the next generation of tennis players who are aiming to make it to the top?
Hyeon Chung has been likened in style to former world number one Novak Djokovic
For a long time, it seemed as if Alexander Zverev was going to be the big name in tennis.
It seemed as if he was far ahead of the rest of the NextGen, looking to push through to the top of the tennis world once the big four, or five (depending on who you count) are gone and their retirements have left space to be filled.
Murray, Djokovic, Federer, Nadal and Wawrinka are unlikely to have their shoes filled, rather they will continue to leave a big shadow which the next gen have to step out of.
Zverev’s golden boy status seemed secure when he didn’t play the NextGen Finals in Milan, as he had qualified for the full senior ATP Finals. It was a stark contrast, it seemed to say that he was above the other young players around him and that they could battle it out for second place.
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If you were to take one of the great free bets that allow you to bet on tennis without having to put a single penny of your own money down, you would have placed a bet on Zverev to be the first of the upstarts to take a Grand Slam title. He was the safe bet and you would have got pretty solid odds on him too.
However, in recent Grand Slams, he has not managed to kick on and reach the later rounds. He has struggled to take promising ATP tour performances onto the biggest stage and is, perhaps most starkly he has only made it to the fourth round of a Grand Slam once and was dumped out of the Australian Open in the third round this year.
He just lost at Indian Wells, despite being the number four seed, to João Sousa, a talented but hardly spectacular player.
This has led many to question if someone else heads the queue for players set to make it to the top of tennis and one name put forward as the real leader of the pack is Hyeon Chung, a South Korean player who is really making waves, both in and out of Grand Slams.
He managed to make an Australian Open semi-final this year which included dumping Novak Djokovic out on the way.
In Zverev’s absence in Milan, at the NextGen finals, Chung took the title and played confident and calm tennis. He looks similar in style to Novak Djokovic with brilliant defensive ability and great groundstrokes.
He also has a sense of seriousness and commitment that is perhaps lacking in Zverev who has, in the past, been dogged by accusations that he does not work hard enough.
Of course, the proof will be in the pudding, it would be beyond shocking if neither of these young talents managed to win a Grand Slam and both will have plenty of chances. Zverev is struggling but can still, on his day, beat almost anyone and Chung has to work hard to prove Australia wasn’t a fluke.
It will be fantastic to watch these young men’s careers unfold.