U.S. Davis Cup hero Michael Chang became the first player to reach the semifinals of the $6-million Grand Slam Cup when he beat Frenchman Henri Leconte today, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3.
Chang, the 1989 French Open champion from Placentia, Calif., kept his concentration despite Leconte’s constant clowning and will play either Pete Sampras or Yugoslavia’s Goran Ivanisevic in Saturday’s semifinals.
The victory guaranteed Chang, who beat world No. 1 Stefan Edberg in the opening round, at least $450,000 in prize money.
The left-handed Leconte, who broke Chang as he served for the first set but lost the tiebreaker, 7-3, took home $300,000.
Leconte, who had to pull out of last month’s Paris indoor tournament with a knee injury, had more and more trouble with his serve as the match progressed.
The 30th-ranked Frenchman, who beat seventh seed Thomas Muster of Austria in the first round, broke Chang to go 2-1 up in the second set.
But he served two double faults to help Chang pull even in the next game and collapsed to the floor in disgust after giving away the third break point.
Broken again in the sixth game, again with a pair of double faults along the way, Leconte was unable to get back into the match.
Chang, the Placentia teen-ager who helped the United States win the Davis Cup final against Australia nearly two weeks ago, chased every ball across the carpet court and maintained the upper hand.
He got to match point on serve and then had the satisfaction of seeing the tiring Leconte put a service return into the net.