TENNIS ROUNDUP : Chang Upset Victim Again--Out in First Round at Italy Open
Michael Chang, who has struggled since suffering a hip injury last December, was eliminated in the first round of the Italian Open today, losing to Jan Gunnarsson of Sweden, 6-3, 6-3.
Chang, the tournament’s seventh seed, was never a threat in the match. The 18-year-old from Placentia looked tentative from the outset and committed several crucial unforced errors.
After easily winning the first set, Gunnarsson sensed that the upset was within his reach. Leading, 2-1, he broke Chang to go up, 3-1. Serving for the match at 5-3, 40-15, Gunnarson blasted an ace to close out the contest.
Gunnarsson, 27, is ranked 65th on the ATP computer. Chang, who made headlines last year by winning the French Open at the age of 17, is No. 12.
Chang has now lost his first match in three straight tournaments. His record for the year is 2-5.
“I don’t know exactly what it is,” he said. “Everybody goes through their rough times and this just happens to be mine.”
“But I’m not going to let this break me down. I’m 18 and I’ve got at least 10 more years in me. I’m not going to let it affect the rest of my career.”
“I’m trying to look ahead, trying to be as positive as I can,” he said. “The French Open is the next tournament and I’ll just try to do my best.”
Chang was the main casualty on a busy day of 25 singles matches at the Foro Italico.
Second-seeded Aaron Krickstein led the way into the second round with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over fellow American Jim Grabb. Also advancing were No. 6 Martin Jaite of Argentina, No. 9 Jim Courier of the United States, No. 10 Thomas Muster of Austria, No. 13 Jonas Svensson of Sweden and No. 14 Magnus Gustafsson of Sweden.
Defending champion Alberto Mancini, the 16th seed, survived a three-set struggle against fellow Argentine Christian Miniussi, winning 4-6, 7-6, 6-4.
In a mild upset, unseeded Guy Forget of France beat No. 15 Petr Korda of Czechoslovakia 6-3, 6-2. Another seed, No. 11 Carl Uwe Steeb of West Germany, withdrew because of hand blisters.
In West Berlin, Steffi Graf played in front of East German fans for the first time today and opened the defense of her German Open title with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Mercedes Paz of Argentina.
Graf, the No. 1 player in the world, had a bye into the second round and barely broke a sweat as she overwhelmed the 76th-ranked Paz in just 50 minutes.