Tennis Prose




Nov/20

15

Chang Believed He Could Win A Major At 17

One of the most miraculous Grand Slam wins of the modern era was Michael Chang winning Roland Garros at age 17.

At the time Chang was ranked 19 in the world but there weren’t any indicators he could win a major title yet. Going into Paris, Chang did not play European red clay events. After losing in the quarters at Indian Wells to Miroslav Mecir in March, Chang skipped Miami and played two clay events in America, semis at Forest Hills (lost to Jaime Yzaga) and a walkover loss to Javier Frana in Charleston in QF after beating Jimmy Brown and Diego Perez (both ranked well outside top 100).

In the first round at Roland Garros, Chang actually lost his first set to Eduardo Masso, world no. 146 of Germany, but then found his groove for a four set win 67 63 60 63.

Thirty one years later Chang reveals he actually possessed the self belief he could shock the world. “When you’re young you can be a little too confident sometimes. I trained with Pete Sampras at the ’88 and ’89 French. Then Pete and I played in ’89 on center court (in second round). I remember asking Jose Higueras (his coach), How well can I do here?” (He answered) ‘Second week would be great for you.’ Second week?! You don’t think we have a chance to win?! I obviously didn’t expect to win. Things came together.”

Chang annihilated his buddy Sampras 61 61 61 in the second round. Sampras was ranked 92 at the time. A year later Pete would win the US Open.

In the third round in Paris, Chang blasted the “King of Clay” Rafael Nadal’s now assistant coach Francisco Roig (ranked 291) 60 75 63.

Then came the round of 16 showdown with world no. 1 Ivan Lendl, which Chang won in stunning fashion by a symmetrical scoreline of 46 46 63 63 63.

In China, a dangerous political situation had arisen. Student-led demonstrations and protests were held in Tiananmen Square in Beijing during June of 1989. The protests started on April 15 and were forcibly suppressed on June 4 when the government declared martial law and sent the People’s Liberation Army to occupy parts of central Beijing. In what became known as the “Tiananmen Square Massacre” troops armed with assault rifles and backed by tanks, fired at the demonstrators and those trying to block the military’s advance into Tiananmen Square. Estimates of the death toll vary from several hundred to several thousand, with thousands more wounded.

Chang was deeply affected by the tragedy. “The situation in Tiananmen Square started on the middle Sunday. There was a lot of emotion on the court and off the court as well. I feel like so many things happened, unbelievable matches and I’ve always felt God wanted me to win that tournament to put a smile on Chinese people’s faces when there wasn’t a lot to smile about.”

In the QF Chang won another thriller vs 30th ranked Ronald Agenor, 64 26 64 76 to set up a semifinal duel with Russian Andrei Chesnokov. Again Chang survived despite cramps, in four tough sets, 61 57 76 75.

Across the net in the final would be no. 3 ranked Stefan Edberg. But Chang had just beaten Edberg in Indian Wells (for the first time after two previous straight-set defeats) 63 62 in the round of 16, so the intimidation factor was minimal for the teenager. This would be their first clash on clay. Edberg was seeking his first French Open, he was 23 and had already won Australian Open twice and Wimbledon once.

Chang found a way and executed the right tactics to conquer Edberg in an epic marathon, 61 36 46 64 62.

“It was an incredible couple of weeks,” said Chang, who would never win another major title, despite three more finalist appearances at US Open, French Open and Australian Open.

Somehow Chang had the self belief and the confidence to win his only career Grand Slam at the tender age of 17, when it was the least expected.

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5 comments

  • Doug Day · November 16, 2020 at 7:01 am

    Lets remember Chang like Margret Court was an unapologetic christian. Only faith in a creator larger than beneficent government conquers Orwellian newspeak. This timely piece places the onus on our conformist sports media who collude with China to this day. Chang slew the collectivist Goliath one week 30 years ago for the land of the free.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 16, 2020 at 7:10 am

    Doug. Chang’s monumental triumph over the world and communism should serve as an inspiration during these trying times and for any time really. Miracles do happen. Michael Chang is proof of that.

  • Sam · November 17, 2020 at 5:30 pm

    Speaking of Margaret Court, any news on the upcoming biofile, Scoop? 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 17, 2020 at 8:20 pm

    Still working on it, I’m a patient biofile interview hunter )

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 18, 2020 at 10:01 am

    Biden admits on Oct. 24 demonrats organized massive voter fraud operation. How can any American citizen defend Biden after this treason? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MA8a2g6tTp0

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