Chang isn't making noise, except to roar through Open No. 4 seed advances easily

Lendl, Becker also triumph

September 07, 1992|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Michael Chang hits the stadium court, and the place clears out. He hangs around the baseline like some teen-ager at a mall, turning matches into marathons, trying the patience of his opponents, the audience, even the television networks.

But, suddenly, the mystery guest who is signed in as the No. 4 men's seed is beginning to make some noise at this U.S. Open. He may be 5 feet 8, with a chest no wider than the face of his racket and a serve that rarely clicks three digits on a radar gun, yet it's the second week of the last Grand Slam of 1992, and Chang is still a contender for a title.

Yesterday, the little big man of tennis put away Arnaud Boetsch, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1, to advance to the round of 16.

The match wasn't packed with drama, but it provided further evidence that Chang's thoughtful style and bulked-up game could take him a long way at the Open.

"I feel like I have a chance to win the tournament," Chang said. "That doesn't mean that I will. I am not going to put myself in that position. But I feel that I have learned quite a bit, and that's the most important thing."

Day 7 of the Open belonged to the Euro-Guys. With the NFL cranking up its first weekend of play, the programmers at CBS and the tournament organizers managed to put nearly every European-trained star on court, saving the big four of American tennis -- Jim Courier, John McEnroe, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras -- for today.

Still, there were some fascinating matchups.

Ivan Lendl and Boris Becker advanced to their fourth-round confrontation, Lendl beating Chuck Adams, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4, and Becker beating his German Davis Cup teammate, Carl-Uwe Steeb, 6-1,4-6, 7-6 (7-1), 6-3.

For the second straight time, though, Lendl was criticized for his tentative play by an opponent. First, it was Jimmy Connors who derided Lendl for "bunting" backhands during their second-round match. And then Adams, ranked 130 in the world, said Lendl "doesn't play like he used to."

Lendl's response?

"I don't care what they say," he said. "I mean, if it is such a bad play, if you call it bunting, how come they didn't beat me? I don't know."

Becker said he doesn't care whether he faces a "new" Lendl or an "old" Lendl. Either way, he expects a tough match.

"Well, those two guys lost in four sets, and they talk like that," said Becker, a tennis diplomat.

Reigning champion Stefan Edberg easily beat fellow Swede Jonas Svensson, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. Edberg's next match should be more strenuous, because he'll face Richard Krajicek, a human serve who routed Mark Woodforde, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2.

For the first time since 1935, two brothers squared off in the draw. Emilio Sanchez outlasted his younger brother, Javier, through five sets and two tiebreakers, 5-7, 6-1, 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-3), 6-4.

Next up for Emilio Sanchez is Wayne Ferreira, a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 winner over Wally Masur.

Now, the Open is reaching its real start. No more birthday parties for has-been stars, no more debates about grunting, no more star turns by players modeling the fall line of tennis apparel.

Week 2 separates the tennis heavyweights from the lightweights. And Chang is trying to push his way back in the big time, trying to prove he's more than the one-shot wonder who won the French Open at 17 and then nearly disappeared off the charts.

He's back in the top five with a stronger game. Chang, 20, will never be a Terminator, but he has added muscle to his baseline style, winning three tournaments, including the Lipton.

The best-kept secret in tennis is that Chang, who won his only major on clay, is really a hard-courter at heart. And, now, he's playing like a legitimate contender.

"You think it's just backhands and forehands and big serves out there," he said. "Actually, it is your mind that puts everything together."

So Chang has plotted carefully, building his game for the Open. Few people may be paying attention, but he moves stealthily through the draw, advancing without much fuss.

"I have grown up a little bit," he said. "I matured a little bit, too. I see that my peers are doing well, that Courier is ranked No. 1 and Sampras is No. 3. They are out there doing well in the Grand Slams. And my attitude has changed. It is no longer like, 'Let us hope to get to the rounds of 16.' Now, it is like, 'Let us go out and give this the best shot because you have a chance to win.' "

He'll probably never thrill a crowd. But it doesn't matter. If he gets his way, he'll turn the Open into the New York City Marathon.

Tough to watch. Tougher to beat.

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