Chang on other end of French Open drama

Posted: Thursday, May 31, 2001

PARIS -- Watching teen-ager Andy Roddick writhe in pain from cramps during a five-set match at the French Open, Michael Chang had an eerie feeling of history repeating itself.

This time, Chang lost.

''I didn't want to think about it too much,'' Chang said. ''I wanted to stay focused.''

Twelve years ago, Chang won an epic match against Ivan Lendl in the fourth round of the French Open, serving underhand against the No. 1 player when cramping nearly overwhelmed him.

He won that match after 4 hours and 37 minutes, then went on to become the youngest men's champion at Roland Garros at age 17 years and 3 months.

On Wednesday, Chang lost in 3 hours, 50 minutes to the 18-year-old Roddick, losing the second-round match 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-5.

Roddick's body contorted in sudden jerks of pain between points, clutching his head and leaning on his racket as the cramping worsened in the dramatic final set.

For onlookers, the similarity between the two matches was uncanny.

Chang, now 29, begs to differ.

''I think with Ivan, it was just something that was so different,'' he said. ''It has similarities definitely, but it was a little bit different at the same time.''

If Chang was trying hard not to remember his win over Lendl, Roddick thought of little else.

''That's one of my first memories of tennis, that match against Lendl,'' Roddick said. ''It definitely crossed my mind. I thought that was pretty ironic.

''It was like a fairy tale.''

Unlike Chang back in 1989, Roddick's serve was devastating throughout the match, with 37 aces and 32 service winners.

''That serve really saved him,'' Chang said. ''I had a lot of chances.

''Even when he was cramping, he was still able to bomb the serve.''

Roddick was loudly jeered for throwing his racket down in frustration in the first set, but by the fifth the crowd was shouting ''Andy! Andy!'' as the teen-ager drew closer to victory.

After sealing the match, Roddick threw his baseball cap into the crowd, then ripped his shirt apart.

Roddick next faces sixth-seeded Lleyton Hewitt, who routed Russian qualifier Nikolay Davydenko 6-0, 6-1, 6-3 in their second-round match.

Defending champion Gustavo Kuerten cruised to his second consecutive straight-set win, eliminating Argentina's Agustin Calleri 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Despite the easy win, the top-seeded player wasn't impressed with his performance.

''I didn't play with the same intensity I played in the first match,'' the 24-year-old Brazilian said before explaining how he overcomes those rough patches.

''When I have a problem during a match, I try to think back and remember my great moments here,'' he said.

Kuerten won the title in 1997 as an outsider ranked 66th in the world, and again last year.

Chang was not the only former champion to exit the tournament Wednesday. Sergi Bruguera, who won the French in 1993 and 1994, retired from his second-round match, blaming sinus problems.



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