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U.S. Open Men’s Matches : Chang Beats Svensson in Tense 5-Set Match

Special to The Times

When 16-year-old Michael Chang lofted a gentle backhand lob into the corner, right over Jonas B. Svensson’s head for a winner, it was the shot of a very young career.

The delicate lob pulled Chang back to deuce after he had fallen behind, 0-40, when serving for the match. Svensson, in a sporting gesture, applauded the point along with the capacity crowd of 6,000 at the grandstand court of the National Tennis Center.

Two points later, which featured two backhand errors by Svensson, Chang walked off the court to a standing ovation with his 5-7, 6-4, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 second-round victory over the No. 13-seeded player in the U.S. Open.

“You don’t see a guy do that very often, clap for your winners,” said Chang, of Placentia. “I had never seen him do it. That was a very tense moment.”

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The match, essentially, was tense the entire way. Chang was forced to rally from a two-sets-to-one deficit. After he pulled even in sets, Chang fell behind one service break in the second game, but he broke back in the next game.

“Before today I was just really worried about going five sets,” said Chang, who suffered from cramps in his legs during the match. “Today, after I won the fourth set I just decided to go for it and if I cramped, I cramped. I’m going to play until I can’t walk any more.”

Chang also said the crowd helped him stay in it, and he thought he owed the fans a good effort. Next for him is a third-round match against Tim Wilkison, a tough player in the Open and certainly a crowd favorite.

Actually, Chang, ranked No. 48 in the world, wasn’t thinking about Wilkison. He was looking ahead to playing someone closer to his own age.

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“I want to play Andre in the round of 16,” he said, smiling.

That’s 18-year-old Andre Agassi, fellow American teen-age tennis savior.

Another Aussie took on another contender Friday, and out went another seeded player.

This time, it was 18-year-old Jason Stoltenberg from the tiny farmland community of Narrabri in New South Wales playing No. 7 Yannick Noah of France. When it was over, Noah hobbled away . . . right out of the tournament.

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Noah, a one-time French Open champion, split sets with Stoltenberg and was behind, 5-1, in the third when he retired.

Apparently, Noah has tendinitis in both knees, which is obviously aggravated by play on the hard cement courts at the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow. He has had problems in the past but practiced hard for this tournament the last two weeks and didn’t feel any pain until Friday.

“I started to feel it and I couldn’t push to serve and come to the net,” Noah said. “It was very difficult.”

Noah’s comments were very much like the ones heard from No. 5 Boris Becker, who lost to Aussie Darren Cahill on Thursday. Becker, too, was hampered by injuries to both feet and by a large blister on the bottom of his left foot.

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In addition to Cahill’s victory, two other Australians won Thursday. Mark Woodforde beat No. 16 John McEnroe, and John Frawley defeated Paul Annacone.

No. 6 Jimmy Connors celebrated his 36th birthday with a 6-0, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Israel’s Gilad Bloom in a second-round match. Other seeded men advancing to the third round were No. 1 Ivan Lendl, No. 4 Andre Agassi (a four-set winner over Rick Leach of Laguna Beach), No. 9 Tim Mayotte, No. 12 Guillermo Perez-Roldan and No. 15 Anders Jarryd.

One round ahead of everyone else is Cahill, who received a walkover into the fourth round when his opponent, Marcelo Ingaramo of Argentina went home to be with his wife, who is expecting a baby momentarily.


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