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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Chung Hyeon expects to be South Korea's first grand slam champion 'some day in the future'

Chung's march to the semi-finals of the Australian Open has peaked interest in tennis in his homeland.

Chung Hyeon reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open last month. Dean Lewins / EPA
Chung Hyeon reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open last month. Dean Lewins / EPA

Chung Hyeon believes he is on course to become South Korea's first tennis grand slam winner, as he recovers from his remarkable but gruelling run to the Australian Open semi-finals.

Chung, 21, was the surprise package in Melbourne as he stormed his way to the last four, but had to retire while trailing defending champion Roger Federer 1-6, 2-5 because of painful blisters.

Federer went on to win the event - the Swiss' 20th grand slam - but Chung said on Friday he has set his sights on winning his first.

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"I've not set any specific target (for the French Open) but I will be able to win a grand slam tournament some day in the future", he said.

Chung uploaded a horrific picture of his blistered foot after the Federer clash on his Instagram account, sparking a flood of messages from fans praising him for his courage.

"I've seldom played so many games unremittingly and my feet reached their limits", he said. "My doctor says the blistered feet are curing well due to my young age and I will be able to start training next week."

Chung said he was already looking forward to the next grand slam, the French Open in late May, which is unique among the four major events for using clay courts.

"My performance on clay courts was good last year", Chung told journalists.

Chung's unexpected run to be the first South Korean in a grand slam semi-final has drawn new fans to the sport in his homeland, where tennis lags far behind golf and baseball in the popularity stakes.

It also sparked top television ratings and a spike in sales of tennis gear.

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