Edberg shows old form in putting away Chang Win is major boost in bid for elusive Slam title

French Open

June 02, 1996|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

PARIS -- He never has won a French Open championship, and if he doesn't win this year's, he never will.

Stefan Edberg, unseeded for his final try at the only Grand Slam event to elude him, took a never-say-never attitude into his match with Michael Chang yesterday and turned a gloomy afternoon incandescent with his serve-and-volley artistry.

"I played some of the best tennis I've done for a very, very long time," Edberg, 30, said after his 4-6, 7-5, 6-0, 7-6 (7-1) third-round victory.

"I'm not going out there giving him anything just because he's 30 and it's his last year," said the fourth-seeded Chang. "He is not the type that wants any free handouts. I lost a little bit of timing in the third set and from there the momentum definitely shifted."

By doing the little things right, said the 47th-ranked Edberg, he gave himself a chance to retire from the game with all four Grand Slam trophies in his possession -- a feat no male player has achieved since Rod Laver and Roy Emerson in the 1960s.

"There's a tiny little chance," he said, "because I'm not feeling tired. I'm moving well. I'm serving a lot better than I've done for a long time -- little things that make a difference."

Edberg didn't cringe at the notion of squaring off against the same player who shut the door on him in the 1989 final here. Instead, he relished it. And yesterday he managed partial revenge for the loss that allowed Chang, at 17, to become the French Open's youngest male champion and forced the Swede, then 23, to consider if he had blown his best chance to excel on his worst surface.

Now Edberg, who bumbled away a dozen break points in the fourth set of his 1989 final against Chang, has the chance to become the French Open's oldest champion since Andres Gomez in 1990.

If he does win here, he's certain to have ample support in the stands.

"You're popular when you're young, and then when you're old, the people start cheering for you again," said Edberg.

Yesterday, one of those high-octane newcomers who tend to make Edberg feel old, Marcelo Rios, proved too good for Edberg's doubles partner, Czech veteran Petr Korda, winning easily, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2.

Rios, 20, is now 21-4 on clay in 1996, with two of those losses to Thomas Muster. In the next round, he is given an outside chance to upset Muster, the defending champion, who advanced, 6-2, 5-2, after a sprained ankle downed Adrian Voinea.

And then there is Steffi Graf, who found the cozy confines of Court One even cozier than usual.

Her opponent, 205th-ranked Petra Langrova, strained a groin muscle early in the first set in reaching for a drop shot and lost her mobility. Graf went on to claim the match when Langrova retired at 6-0, 1-0.

"Well, the first week was pretty easy," Graf said. "In the second week you start playing seeded players, so that's a different game."

Men's singles, third round

Marcelo Rios (9), Chile, def. Petr Korda, Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2. Michael Stich (15), Germany, def. Mikael Tillstrom, Sweden, 4-6, 6-0, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3). Marc Rosset (14), Switzerland, def. Jakob Hlasek, Switzerland, 6-4, 6-4, 6-1. Stefan Edberg, Sweden, def. Michael Chang (4), Henderson, Nev., 4-6, 7-5, 6-0, 7-6 (7-1). Cedric Pioline, France, def. Alberto Berasategui, Spain, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-0. Goran Ivanisevic (5), Croatia, def. Bohdan Ulihrach, Czech Republic, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. Bernd Karbacher, Germany, def. Paul Haarhuis, Netherlands, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. Thomas Muster (2), Austria, def. Adrian Voinea, Romania, 6-2, 5-2, retired.

Men's doubles, second round

Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Russia, and Daniel Vacek, Czech Republic (7), def. Kelly Jones, San Diego, and Chris Woodruff, Knoxville, Tenn., 6-3, 6-4. Sebastien Lareau, Canada, and Alex O'Brien, Amarillo, Texas (8), def. Richard Krajicek and Menno Oosting, Netherlands, 7-5, 6-3. Javier Frana, Argentina, and Rick Leach, Laguna Beach, Calif., def. Patrick Galbraith, Seattle, and Andrei Olhovskiy, Russia (4), 7-6 (7-3), 6-4. Jonas Bjorkman and Nicklas Kulti, Sweden (9), def. Brent Haygarth and Christo van Rensburg, South Africa, 6-2, 6-4. Luis Lobo, Argentina, and Javier Sanchez (10), Spain, def. Olivier Delaitre, France, and Jeff Tarango, Manhattan Beach, Calif., 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. Scott Davis, Newport Beach, Calif., and Tim Henman, Britain, def. Hendrik Jan Davids, Netherlands, and Cyril Suk (13), Czech Republic, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4). Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde (1), Australia, def. Lorenzo Manta, Switzerland, and Pavel Vizner, Czech Republic, 6-1, 6-2. Mark Philippoussis and Patrick Rafter (15), Australia, def. David Adams, South Africa, and Wayne Arthurs, Australia, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (11-9).

Women's singles, third round

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