Marin Cilic vs Hyeon Chung - Japan Open - Round of 16 - Preview and Prediction
Tokyo gives a terrific match-up between Marin Cilic and Hyeon Chung in the pre-quarterfinals of the Japan Open today. Both Cilic and Chung crashed out in the first round last year and will aim for a deep run this time.
The Croatian Cilic has been struggling this year with inconsistent performances and repetitive injuries. His showing in Grand Slams was far from impressive with fourth round finishes in the Australian and the US Open and second round exits in the French Open and Wimbledon.
He has made only two quarterfinals this year, in Madrid and Washington. Despite reaching three grand slam finals in his career, Cilic has been below-par this year though he possesses a dangerous game that could challenge the world's best players.
A 12-8 win-loss record on hard courts this year does injustice to Cilic's stature.
He will be low on confidence since he has not won any titles this year. However, Cilic can beat any player on his day. He was clinical in the previous round as he swept aside Yuichi Sugita 6-4 6-4.
On the other hand, Hyeon Chung is slowly making a comeback after suffering from back pain and blisters, and is ranked 143 now. With less matchplay owing to multiple pullouts from top tournaments, Chung will be looking to improve his ranking in the remaining months of the season.
His only consolation has been winning the Chengdu Challenger title in August this year. Early exits have been a common occurrence in other tournaments. The South Korean requires more consistency as he battles form and fitness simultaneously.
Chung showed a lot of fighting spirit as he outlasted Italian Lorenzo Sonego after trailing a set in the previous round. In a match where momentum shifted both sides, Chung came out trumps in a battle of the Next-Gen players, clinching the encounter 3-6 6-3 6-4.
Though Cilic leads the head-to-head record 3-0 against Chung, he can expect a stiff challenge from Chung. A tough hard court encounter can be expected as both can play consistent and attacking tennis. Cilic's offense versus Chung's defence will be a fantastic treat for the fans.
Prediction - Marin Cilic to win in three sets
Cover Image Credits - Getty Images