The players of the ATP World Tour voted Hyeon Chung as the Most Improved Player of the Year. Over the last year, the Korean teen phenom rose 130 spots in the rankings, jumping from 183 to his current career-high ranking of 51. His phenomenal year looks like it will earn him a main draw entry into not just the Australian Open, but the lead-up events to it as well, barring a significant injury in the next few months.
Chung’s Season Highlights
The Korean started off his year playing in plenty of Challenger events to try and get his ranking up. To start the year, he was ranked 169 and that wasn’t good enough to play in most tour-level events or Grand Slams without qualifying, barring a wildcard. Despite losing to fellow youngster Elias Ymer in the third round of Australian Open qualifying, he put that behind him immediately and made his first semifinal of the year at the Hong Kong Challenger, losing to Tatsuma Ito.
That initial semifinal kick started his season into high gear as the Korean number one began to soar into new heights. He took home his first Challenger title of the year at the McDonald’s Burnie International which soared him inside the top 130 of the world. He’d make a second consecutive in Australia, this time in Launceston. However, he lost to American Bjorn Fratangelo in three highly competitive sets.
The teen picked up his first tour-level win at the Miami Open, defeating Marcel Granollers, before succumbing to Tomas Berdych in two close sets. He picked up a second tour-level win in Houston, defeating Facundo Arguello. Chung then went on a run of three straight Challenger finals, including back-to-back titles. He took home titles in Savannah and Busan before losing to Go Soeda in the Seoul Challenger.
Chung would go on to pick up a few more tour-level wins, notably in Winston-Salem and Shenzhen. In between those, he won his fourth Challenger of the year in Kaohsiung. After that win, he moved inside the top 60.