You may have heard that Novak Djokovic is playing no part in the 2022 Australian Open. In his absence, a new champion is set to be crowned Down Under.
Rafael Nadal will have something to say about that, but the chances are that the name of a first-time winner will be etched into the Norman Banks Challenge Cup on January 30. Several contenders have their sights on that ultimate prize, with a path being cleared by the current world No.1.
Daniil Medvedev could knock Djokovic off that lofty perch at some stage in the near future if he emerges victorious in Melbourne. The talented Russian is the 2.63 favorite in tennis betting markets at Betfair to back up his US Open triumph with another Grand Slam crown.
If victory is to be savored, with tennis betting tips very much on his side, then Medvedev would have wanted to go through an all-time great in order to get his hands on major silverware. However, he will happily play the hand that he has been dealt. No arguments will be offered against claiming another trophy for the cabinet.
Beating Djokovic in Australia has also proved to be an almost impossible task down the years. The iconic Serbian has nine titles to his name and has never lost when reaching the final at Melbourne Park.
The player has been an immovable object in the last three Opens in Oz, with his last defeat coming way back in 2018. A shock fourth-round exit was suffered then, when on the way back from injury, with an unlikely rival claiming his notable scalp.
Who managed to beat Djokovic?
The man to send Djokovic packing that day, in straight sets no less, was Chung Hyeon. He would go on to reach the semi-finals as an unseeded entry in the draw and became the first man from South Korea to figure in a last-four encounter at a Grand Slam event.
It is fair to say that run rather bucked a trend for Chung, with his day in the sun followed by a return to the shadows. Injuries have proven to be a problem, meaning that any progress is left stunted, but a fall from grace has been as sudden as his burst onto the scene.
History-making endeavors in 2018 allowed a rise to 19 in the world rankings to be taken in, with seemingly even more potential to be unlocked. However, it was not to be and he tumbled out of the top 150 in the following calendar year.
With a trapdoor well and truly opening up beneath him, Chung has slipped as far as 378 in the world and can only dream of scaling the heights he once enjoyed.
That said, he will always be able to tell the tale of how he once upset a man who many consider to be the greatest of all time – definitely one that falls into a ‘story for the grandkids’ category.
Djokovic has long since erased the events of that day from his memory bank, with frustration taken out on unsuspecting rivals across multiple playing surfaces. But it remains a constant reminder that anything is possible in sport and that 15 minutes of fame can be enjoyed by the pluckiest of underdogs.