Six-time champion Novak Djokovic was upset in straight sets on Monday while defending champion Roger Federer reached the quarterfinals for the 14th time at the Australian Open.
Hyeon Chung became the first South Korean player to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal after beating Djokovic 7-6 (4), 7-5, 7-6 (3) in the fourth round in Melbourne.
Federer, the second seed from Switzerland, topped Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-2.
In another late-night upset, 97th-ranked American Tennys Sandgren stunned No. 5 Dominic Thiem of Austria 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (7), 6-3. Sandgren of Gallatin, Tenn., is only the second man in 20 years to reach the quarters in his debut at Melbourne Park.
Earlier in the day, the Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych, the 19th seed, beat 25th-seeded Fabio Fognini of Italy 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.
Chung, ranked No. 58, had 47 winners against Djokovic, who was playing his first tournament since Wimbledon last July because of an injured right elbow.
“First of all, I have to say I’m very grateful I had the chance to play,” the 14th-seeded Djokovic of Serbia said after the match. “I didn’t know if I’m going to play or not. So I played four matches here. It was a good tournament, of course. I mean, it’s disappointing to go out in the fourth round. The circumstances are such. I have to accept it. That’s the reality.
“It’s frustrating, of course, when you have that much time and you don’t heal properly. But it is what it is. There is some kind of a reason behind all of this. I’m just trying my best obviously because I love this sport. I enjoy training. I enjoy getting myself better, hoping that I can get better, perform and compete. Today was one of those days where, unfortunately, it was too much to deal with.”
After the almost 3 1/2-hour match, the 21-year-old Chung praised Djokovic.
“When I’m young, I’m just trying to copy Novak because he’s my idol,” Chung said. “I can’t believe this tonight. Dreams come true tonight.”
Chung will next meet Sandgren for a place in the semifinals. Chung won their only previous encounter just two weeks ago in Auckland, New Zealand.
The 26-year-old Sandgren missed a match point in the fourth set but held on to upset Thiem in 3 hours, 54-minutes.
“I don’t know if this is a dream or not — all you guys are here, so maybe it’s not,” Sandgren he said in an on-court interview. “I’m not in my underwear, so maybe it’s not a dream.”
Later at his press conference, Sandgren was asked if he was pinching himself.
“I actually did a little bit at the end of the match doing the post-match interview thinking this would be one of those moments where you wake up,” Sandgren said. “Obviously, the first three matches were more than I expected. This one was about as hard-fought as I’ve ever had a match before. My biggest match, as well, pretty neat. I definitely had a real pinch-me moment. ‘Wow, this is hopefully real. If I wake up now, I’m going to be real upset.'”
Federer never faced a break point in his win, and he converted three of his 10 break opportunities, which proved sufficient. The five-time Melbourne titlist finished with more winners (34-23) and fewer errors (37-28) than Fucsovics.
Federer will next play Berdych in the quarters.
“I’m looking forward to (playing) Tomas, I’m glad he got through,” said Federer, who has won last his past eight head-to-head meetings with Berdych. Federer holds a 19-6 edge in their career matchups, including a victory in the 2017 Wimbledon semifinals.
While Federer, 36, has a record 19 major titles, Berdych, 32, has yet to capture one.
Berdych, who is headed to a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the 17th time in his career, hit 10 aces to Fognini’s three in their 2-hour, 11-minute contest. Each player produced 37 winners, but Fognini’s 32 errors exceeded Berdych’s 20.
“This is very pleasant,” Berdych said after the match. “I’m really enjoying every minute on the court. I’m feeling good, healthy.”
Berdych is through to the quarterfinals in Melbourne for the seventh time in the past eight years. The only time he missed out in that span was a third-round loss last year, when he was unlucky enough to run into eventual champion Federer. At the time, Federer was seeded 17th.
Berdych has reached a Grand Slam semifinal seven times, but only once has he reached a major final. He lost in straight sets to Rafael Nadal in the 2010 Wimbledon title match.
–Field Level Media