10:31 PM GMT November 10, 2017
Hyeon Chung was unstoppable. That was until he wasn’t.
The South Korean dominated round-robin competition, winning all three of his matches. And after winning the first two sets easily and going up a break in the third set of Friday’s semi-final at the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals against Daniil Medvedev, it looked like he would cruise right into the final against Andrey Rublev, who he crushed in group play.
But then Medvedev dug into the match. The Russian found his rhythm and with it enough momentum to carry the encounter to a deciding fifth set. Chung looked vulnerable.
Not so fast. Chung impressively enough found perhaps his best tennis of the week when he needed it the most, putting on a scintillating display of aggression and mental toughness to oust Medvedev, 4-1, 4-1, 3-4(4), 1-4, 4-0.
“I had to stay calm,” Chung said. “Just trying to stay calm and he was playing good, so I had to play the same as I did in the first and second set.”
At 30/30 in the first game of the final set, Medvedev was just two points from breaking Chung and possibly running away with the match. But the South Korean stayed the course, holding and then breaking to earn a lead he would not give up for a spot in Saturday’s final.
There, Chung will play Rublev, who he beat in Group A play on Wednesday, 4-0, 4-1, 4-3(1), in 68 minutes. He also defeated the Russian this August at the Winston-Salem Open. So, at the moment, he is not worried about creating a gameplan from scratch to combat the top seed.
“I need a rest because it’s already 12, so I have to do my recovery first,” Chung said. "We know how to play each other, so I have to go sleep, only."
Rublev managed to find his best tennis of the event as well to oust the previously undefeated Borna Coric in the day’s first semi-final.
Chung will be playing in his first ATP World Tour final, while Rublev claimed his maiden trophy earlier this year as a lucky loser in Umag.
If Chung goes on to win at the Fiera Milano, he will earn $390,000 as an undefeated champion, while Rublev can leave Italy with $335,000.