In her latest diary from the Australian Open, Reem Abulleil discusses the 'breath of fresh air' brought on by the success of young guns Kyle Edmund and Chung Hyeon.
It had been almost 20 years since multiple unseeded players had last reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open. A decade since just one unseeded player featured in the last-four in Melbourne.
This fortnight, world No. 49 Kyle Edmund, and No. 58 Chung Hyeon have made a statement for the younger generation, storming into the semi-finals at Melbourne Park. Unseeded and aged 23 and 21 respectively, Edmund and Chung have impressed with their unlikely runs, bringing with them a breath of fresh air to an ageing tour.
“I think it’s a good thing,” said the 36-year-old Roger Federer on the arrival of the young guns to the big stage. “They got to make a move. I find it disappointing when their breakthroughs come at 27, because then we know them for seven years, let’s say. I like it when we don’t know the guys.
“I hardly know Chung. I’ve hardly spoken to him. I had one Nike appearance once with Edmund over in London. That’s about it. Maybe otherwise I’ve shaken his hand twice and spoken a few words to him. In a way I like it, because it’s really something totally new to me and to some extent for you guys, too,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday after defeating Tomas Berdych in straight sets to reach a record-extending 14th Australian Open semi-final.
Federer reminds everyone though that his generation is still far from done.
“It’s not going to happen all the time. We like our rivalries that do exist on the tour. New names are good, from time to time, of course for the tour,” added the Swiss.
They definitely are.
HERO OF THE DAY
Chung’s personality and character continue to shine through Down Under. His straight-sets dismissal of Tennys Sandgren on Wednesday on the heels of his huge upset over six-time champion Novak Djokovic was celebrated for more reasons than one. This was my favourite line from Chung after his quarter-final triumph.
“I think I’m not tired because I win. When I win the match against top player, never tired. Just happy, no? Mentally happy, nothing tired,” said the Next Gen ATP Finals champion.
Spoken like a true star in the making.
STATS OF THE DAY
1 – Simona Halep is the first Romanian woman to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open.
5 – wins and five losses for Halep in Grand Slam quarter-finals throughout her career.
6 – wins and two losses for Kerber in career Grand Slam quarter-finals.
9 – matches in a row Berdych has now lost to Federer.
10 – years since an unseeded man has made the Australian Open semi-finals (Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2008) prior to this fortnight.
14 – Australian Open semi-finals reached by Federer, extending his Open Era record. Stefan Edberg is behind him in second place with eight.
14 – consecutive matches Kerber has now won in 2018, against zero losses.
19 – years since multiple unseeded men have reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open (Lapentti, Haas, Enqvist in 1999) prior to this fortnight. Chung and Edmund have changed that now.
43 – Grand Slam semi-finals Federer has now reached. Another Open Era record.
61 – winners from Federer in his three-set win over Berdych.
QUOTES OF THE DAY
“I don’t know. Maybe he has couple more gray hair.”
— Tomas Berdych when asked what about the difference between the Federer he faced on Wednesday, and the one he faced in Melbourne a year ago.
“I’m evolving, guys (smiling). I’m growing. I think I’m handling myself pretty well right now. We’ll just go with that for today.”
— Madison Keys when told she usually reacts to tough losses in a much more emotional way.
“Seeing what has happened to so many other top seeds here in the draw, I was a bit wary going into tonight.”
— Roger Federer was actually nervous ahead of his match against Tomas Berdych. He’s now beaten him nine times in a row.
“All Asian players looking for Kei and we trying to follow him. He’s the pride of Asian player.”
— Chung pays tribute to Japan’s Kei Nishikori.