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Future Bright For Fit-Again Chan

Chan Yung-Jan has had an injury and illness-riddled few years, but now fit again she is eyeing a return to the Top 50.

Published August 21, 2012 01:25

Future Bright For Fit-Again Chan
Chan Yung-Jan

Tennis is a tough sport. A grueling 10-month season sees those at the top playing upwards of 60 matches in all corners of the globe with precious little time for rest and relaxation along the way.

Even the off-season is something of a misnomer, as players spend the majority of that whipping themselves into top shape for January when it all kicks off again.

All this takes its toll on even the fittest of bodies, and therefore it comes as no surprise that players pick up a few stresses and strains along the way. Just ask Chan Yung-Jan.

At 23, Chan has already endured enough injury and illness setbacks to earn the sympathy of the most battle-scarred of tour veterans. Stress fractures, surgery and stomach cysts are just a few of the ailments that have sidelined the World No.95 in recent years, but judging by results of late, she is clearly an advocate of the 'whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger' school of thought.

Last December, Chan was rushed to hospital after suffering from severe abdominal pains, caused by what turned out to be a three-inch stomach cyst. Presented with the choice of undergoing surgery or starting the new season and running the risk of the cyst flaring up again in the future, she wisely decided to go under the knife.

"I didn't even know anything was there," Chan said. "I woke up in the morning and it was really painful, I was sweating a lot and couldn't feel my finger or toes.

"My mom took me to the hospital, and only then the doctor found the cyst. They said I can either wait or I can take surgery. So I said, 'yeah, let's have a surgery!'"

Surgery led to her sitting out the opening months of the 2012 season before returning to action in Miami. Results on her return were mixed, compiling an 8-9 win loss record heading into the summer hardcourt season.

"I was in hospital for three days, and then I went back home for rest." she said. "I couldn't play tennis for a while, couldn't do any core or abdominals. Even running sometimes was difficult as I couldn't twist, so I got really out of shape and it was difficult when I came back."

The turning point came in Carlsbad.

Trailing 4-0 in the final set in the first round of qualifying, Chan looked all set for an early flight back to the Far East for some confidence-boosting ITF appearances ahead of the US Open. Somehow, though, she reeled off seven of the next eight games to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, before embarking on a remarkable run to the semifinals at the Premier event.

Marion Bartoli eventually cut short her fairytale return to form, but not before wins over Yanina Wickmayer, Heather Watson and Jelena Jankovic created a renewed sense of belief within the former World No.50.

"The last three years I always have had some sickness or injury. In 2009 I had a stress fracture, then last year I had the surgery," she added. "Comebacks are always difficult, especially mentally.

"But Carlsbad really showed me that I still can play, I still can improve, so it really helped me a lot. Of course, health is the most important thing. But finally I'm fully fit now and I feel like I'm ready to go."

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