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Korean Junior Poised for Breakthrough
by Damian Glass
Wednesday, 26 January, 2005
The Australian Open Boys' Singles title has been dominated by Europeans for the past decade with Andy Roddick (2000) the only player outside of Europe to claim the crown during this time.
Players from Germany, Yugoslavia, Denmark and the popular Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis (2003) - a fourth-round casualty in this year's men's draw - are all among the list of recent winners of the Australian Open Boys' Singles title.
Go back a little further and only two players in the past 15 years from the Asia-Pacific region have won the Boys Singles title - local juniors Ben Ellwood (1994) and Grant Doyle (1992).
However, that could be about to change with 17-year-old Korean, Sun-Yong Kim Jr., looming as the hot favourite to claim this year's Boys' Singles title.
Kim assumed the No.1 Boy's ranking this month from Frenchman Gael Monfils who turns 19 this year and has joined the open tour.
The right-hander is also seeded No.1 in the Boys' singles and doubles at Melbourne Park where he will team up with compatriot Chu-Huan Yi.
Kim began playing tennis when he was 10 years old. His interest in the game was stimulated by his father who ran a public tennis court in Seoul but while attending middle school Kim was spotted by the head coach of Samsung Securities.
Ever since then Samsung has continued to support Kim, who stands 186cm and thanks to a weight training program has increased his weight to 75kg from 70kg.
In a bid to retain his No.1 ranking and claim the Australian Open junior title (he reached the quarter-finals last year) Kim stepped up his training program in the lead-up to the tournament.
As a result of more than six hours of training each day, Kim has improved his backhand and increased the speed of his serve to 190km/h for the first time.
He warmed up for the Australian Open last week by winning the Australian Hardcourt Junior title at Glen Waverley in Melbourne's south-east and so far everything has gone to plan at Melbourne Park.
Kim is through to the quarter-finals in the singles draw after defeating Dutchman Antal Van Der Duim 6-2 7-6 on Show Court 2.
Then, despite the sweltering temperatures which exceeded 35 degrees, Kim returned to the outside courts in the afternoon with his partner Yi to win their first-round doubles match against Australian pair Stephen Donald and Ben Rocavert.
Kim's next assignment in the Boys' Singles draw is the unseeded Croatian Peter Jelenic and while most Australians will continue to ride the fortunes of Lleyton Hewitt and Alicia Molik in the main singles draw, it is also worth keeping an eye on Kim.
A junior male from the Asia-Pacific is long overdue to win the region's biggest junior title and Korea's Sun-Yong Kim Jr. represents as good a chance as any to win the 2005 Boys Australian Open.
I think we should stop callin the AO the GS of Asia Pacific.