Chang wears out Korda Legg Mason top seed repeats in 3-set match

July 21, 1997|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON -- "If you don't have legs and energy, you just don't beat Michael Chang."

Those were the words of Petr Korda, beaten finalist in the Legg Mason Tennis Classic yesterday, confirming what opponents of Chang on the ATP Tour have suspected for years.

Korda, who features three shots -- hard, harder and hardest -- took a good run at an upset during a 7-5 first-set win before he tired badly and a wave of inevitability set in.

"I started to get tired in the middle of the [nearly hour-long] first set," said the No. 2 seed from the Czech Republic, and, mostly, all he could do is spectate thereafter.

Chang broke him starting the second set and just kept on going to 6-2, 6-1 set scores and his second straight tourney victory at the FitzGerald Tennis Center.

The triumph was Chang's fifth of the year, tops on the ATP Tour and two more than he had during 1996, when he climbed from No. 6 to No. 2 on the world rankings. The pity is he has no place to go upward, not with Pete Sampras in the picture.

"All I tried to do against Korda was play solid tennis consistently. And keep the errors down," Chang said.

Mission accomplished. Chang had one double fault to Korda's nine and, over 27 games, was guilty of just 13 unforced errors. Korda was guilty of 64, including some last seen bounding down 16th Street toward the White House.

"I can't complain. I had a good tournament, I like the way I'm hitting the ball and I did my best," Korda said. "But I had no energy today. What I went through all week, playing midday matches, cost me. Michael came in fresh.

"If I had energy, he would have had a heck of a time beating me."

Chang all but agreed saying: "You know Korda is going to make great shots. It's discouraging sometimes watching shots whiz by you. He hits winners from anywhere on the court.

"But it's tough for anyone to keep doing that. I sensed he was getting tired in the second set, so I wanted to take it to him. I wanted to make him move more and stretch."

Bull's eye. "Left-right, left-right, he just kept moving me," Korda said. "I just couldn't keep up after awhile."

Korda had a terrible time, physically, in his quarterfinal match Friday. He appeared to be recovered Saturday, when he rumbled by David Wheaton in the semifinals. "But as the trainer told me, 'You're not going to recover and get your energy back while you're playing.' He was right," Korda said.

NOTE: The popular Jensen brothers doubles team, Luke and Murphy, seeded No. 3, captured the doubles title, defeating seventh-seeded Neville Godwin and Fernon Wibier, 6-4, 6-4.

Pub Date: 7/21/97

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