The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Tennis News: Hyeon Chung’s Blister Injury Takes Him Out of the Game

Posted by on Wednesday, February 7th, 2018


If you follow tennis, you probably know of 18-time Grand Slam Champion Roger Federer, but do you know the top South Korean tennis player, Hyeon Chung? At just 21 years of age, he won the ATP Next Gen Finals in Milan this past November. Then, he came out of nowhere to beat Novak Djokovic at Melbourne Park. Unfortunately, it seems Chung’s good luck couldn’t last. Two days after losing to Federer in the Australian Open, Chung wound up in the hospital with gruesome calluses and blister injuries.

Tennis stars like Hyeon Chung sometimes run into trouble when filing down their own calluses. Image Source: Pexels user Tookapic.

How Was Hyeon Chung Injured?

If you have a strong stomach, take one look at Chung’s “red raw” foot to see why he retired in the second set of the Australian Open semi-final. Defending champion Federer won his first set 6-1 in 30 minutes and was up 5-2 in the second when Chung bowed out due to blister injuries. During a medical timeout, Chung planned to have his foot taped, but it hurt so badly that he could no longer walk. “I think I did the right thing,” he told Yahoo! Sports News.

Federer had compassionate words for his rival. “Obviously I’m incredibly happy to be in the finals, but not like this,” he said after the match. “I could tell something was wrong before he took the injury timeout, but he has a great composure….We will see much more of him. Top 10 for sure. The rest we will see.”

How Do Tennis Players Manage Calluses and Blisters?

“It’s… worse than regular blisters,” said Stuart Duguid, Chung’s agent. “Over the last few days, it was blister under blister under blister. He had it shaved off. Now it’s red raw,” he added. “They tried injections to see if it numbed the pain. It didn’t work.” Duguid explained that it’s common practice for players to shave down their callouses. However, Chung played so many back-to-back matches that the blisters flared up beyond comprehension.

Coach Neville Godwin admitted they knew there were problems earlier in the month. “He just hadn’t shaved [the callouses] down far enough, so in Auckland, they started blistering and bruising underneath.” Plus, the injections Chung endured were no walk in the park. Godwin explained, “Each one lasts like a minute. The guy is biting into a towel for a minute, and you have to do it pretty close to match time otherwise it wears off. So 45 minutes before a match, and he’s biting into a towel, having someone jabbing his feet.”

Coach Godwin believes they managed the condition as best they could. The grueling schedule simply did not allow for enough rest and recovery time. Chung was attended to by three doctors, a podiatrist, and five trainers.

How Are Mild Calluses Treated At Home?

Tennis players routinely care for their own calluses by shaving them down. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends:

  1. Soaking the callus in warm water for five to 10 minutes to soften the skin.
  2. Gently shaving the callus with a pumice stone in a circular or sideways motion.
  3. Taking care not to remove too much skin, which can lead to wounds, ulcers, or blistering.
  4. Daily applying a lotion that includes salicylic acid, ammonium lactate, or urea.

Once a callus is removed, it’s highly likely a blister will form once normal activity is resumed. The best protection athletes have against blisters is to wear properly fitting shoes and over-the-counter padding to prevent friction. Custom orthotics from a podiatrist is another way to relieve natural pressure spots.

Treating a Blister Under a Callus

Thickened skin known as calluses are designed to protect the skin from pressure and friction-induced blisters. However, blisters can still form beneath the callus if the friction and pressure are not relieved. Surface-level blisters are generally easy to treat and resolve within a week or so. Blisters beneath calluses are more challenging, though. A podiatrist must carefully penetrate several layers of skin to drain the blister, without opening the body to life-threatening infection like cellulitis or sepsis. This is why it is so important to see an expert foot doctor rather than attempting to treat a blister under a callus yourself.

If you are in the NYC or White Plains area, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine to have your blister treated professionally.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.