While much of the tennis world anticipated a quarterfinal between Sam Querrey and Frances Tiafoe, Jason Jung had other ideas.
The 29-year-old former University of Michigan star notched the biggest win of his career on Thursday night at the New York Open as he ousted the second-seeded Tiafoe 6-3, 7-5 to reach the final eight at an ATP Tour level event for only the second time in his career.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Jung said. “I’ve worked hard for a lot of years and it hasn’t been easy. I’m just so happy for this moment. I have to try and enjoy this for a couple of hours and prepare for tomorrow.”
Jung took it to Tiafoe early, securing the early break to jump out to a 3-0 lead in the first set before going on to take the opener 6-3.
“Frances has some time off since the Australian Open. I knew if I had a good start and got on top of him, maybe he wouldn’t be as fast,” said Jung. “I took control in the beginning and it worked, so I kept doing it.”
His solid play continued into the second set and saw him break for a 4-3 lead, and had a chance to serve for the match at 5-4.
Tiafoe would break for the first time in the match to even things at 5-5, but proceeded to dump his ensuing service game to hand the break right back to Jung.
Serving for the match for the second time, Jung held at love to secure his spot in the New York Open’s final eight.
“It’s tough,” Jung said of getting broken while serving for the match the first time around. “I was playing really well up to that point. I knew it was a pressure situation. I’ve had in the past where I’ve been up and kind of just went away. I knew it was still a good opportunity so I just kept knocking on the door.”
It’s a signature win for Jung, who has spent the majority of his career playing Challenger tournaments, where has won three titles. Last year, he reached the quarterfinals of the Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Championships in Newport, Rhode Island, and now finds himself back into the quarterfinals of an ATP World Tour event.
“I think I just love the game,” he said of what keeps him going. “I’ve had a lot of people around me, my coach, friends and family who have always supported me throughout my tennis career. There have been some times where I was thinking about maybe not continuing, but my coach has always believed in me. The belief has to come from me, but it helps when you have a support group that really believes in you.”
Awaiting Jung in the quarterfinals is Sam Querrey, who moved past Radu Albot earlier in the day.
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for New York Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org