Bespectacled Chung has eyes on prize

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South Korea's Chung Hyeon makes a backhand return to Russia's Daniil Medvedev during their second round match.

Chung Hyeon took up tennis after a doctor recommended that peering at a green court would help his weak eyesight, and the bespectacled South Korean has never looked back.

The 21-year-old is now in the semifinals of the Australian Open after powering past unseeded American Tennys Sandgren 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-3 on Wednesday.

Nicknamed "The Professor" due to his trademark thick white-rimmed glasses, Chung is the first man or woman from his country to make the last four of a Grand Slam and the lowest-ranked men's semifinalist in Melbourne since Russia's Marat Safin (No 86) in 2004.

His achievement comes after his monumental wins over six-time champion Novak Djokovic and world No 4 Alexander Zverev to herald his arrival to the bigtime.

"I'm really surprised to make the semis, I beat Sascha (Zverev), Novak and other good players. I have never played in the second week at a Grand Slam," he said.

"I think in the last game many things come together. If I win one more point, I make history in Korea. I was thinking like that. I was thinking about the ceremony, something like that. Anyway, I tried to stay calm because the match was not finished."

Chung has enjoyed a steady rise to prominence over the last two years.

He won the 2015 ATP Most Improved Player award, and signaled his intentions with a run to the semis in Munich last year before his big breakthrough at the NextGen ATP Finals in Milan in November.

Employing his trademark defensive speed and scything forehand, he upset top-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev for his first title and has carried the form into Melbourne after an offseason training stint in Bangkok.

Going green

Chung started playing tennis aged 6, encouraged by his tennis coach father, Seok-Jin. His brother Hong is also a semi-professional player.

Struggling with poor eyesight from a young age, he would blink constantly and an optometrist diagnosed him with myopia and astigmatism, suggesting Chung should play tennis as seeing the green court would help.

"I always play with the glasses," he said this week. "Without the glasses, I can see guys, but I can't play the same tennis."

Chung has said he has no plans to fix the problem through surgery because he would "feel bare" without his glasses.

It has clearly not been a hindrance as he prepares to face defending champion and living legend Roger Federer in the semifinals. The Swiss second seed swept into his 14th Australian Open semifinal with a 7-6 (1), 6-3, 6-4 win over Czech Tomas Berdych on Wednesday.

Rolling in it

Chung trained at the IMG Academy in Florida for two years from the age of 13, and also completed a month of military training in South Korea.

His quirky demeanor has been endearing him to new fans over the last week. He shyly confided that he doesn't have a girlfriend, and that he likes to eat Chinese food before a match-Korean is too heavy apparently.

And his favorite activity?

"What I like to do most is just rolling on my bed. I can do that for days," he told a South Korean news agency in November.

Win his next match and he can roll around in at least $1.6 million to enhance the experience.

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