SEOUL (Reuters) - Tipped as one of the few men in the draw capable of beating Rafa Nadal at Roland Garros this year, rising South Korean talent Chung Hyeon was forced to pull out of the French Open with an ankle injury on Wednesday.
The Australian Open semi-finalist said he had been carrying the problem through the clay season and would need significant time on the sidelines.
“Unfortunately I had to withdraw from Lyon yesterday and now Roland Garros,” the 21-year-old wrote on his Twitter account.
“I have been struggling with an ankle injury during the entire clay season. An MRI scan has revealed that I have build up of fluid in the ankle joint which might require a small procedure and then an extended period of rest.”
Chung gave Asian tennis a lift by reaching the last four at Melbourne Park in January before that campaign came to an end when the bespectacled right-hander retired injured due to blisters against eventual champion Roger Federer.
In addition to missing an event to let his blisters heal, Chung skipped a claycourt tournament in Houston and the Barcelona Open last month due to physical ailments.
Rising to a career high of 19th in the world last month, Chung reached the quarter-finals on the hardcourts of Delray Beach, Acapulco, Indian Wells and Miami before making it to the last four on clay at the Munich Open.
Standing 185 cm tall and weighing in at 83kg, he exhibits the same defensive solidity as his idol Novak Djokovic with an athleticism and power that have earned comparisons with the 10-times French Open champion Nadal.
Nicknamed “The Professor” because of his thick glasses, Chung is still adapting to the physical demands of life on the ATP Tour, however, and his all-action style puts a tremendous strain on his body.
Additional reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by John O'Brien