Advertisement

TENNIS U.S. OPEN : Chang Outlasts McEnroe in All-Nighter

TIMES STAFF WRITER

What started on Friday, ended on Saturday and is going to be on John McEnroe’s mind for a long, long time?

That would be how Michael Chang pulled off a five-set upset in the third round of the U.S. Open, propelled strangely enough by surprising power--11 aces--as well as an assortment of spinning lobs.

As the Stadium Court clock blinked 1:27 Saturday morning, Chang completed a 4-hour 33-minute marathon, the tennis version of an all-night movie, with the slowest shot in his repertoire--a topspin lob to close out a 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7-1), 2-6, 6-3.

Chang, who won 13 points with lobs just out of McEnroe’s reach, knocked three aces in the final game after blowing two match points at 5-2.

Advertisement

“I don’t ace very much, but they come at the right time,” Chang said.

Winless in four previous encounters with the 32-year-old McEnroe, Chang scored a key service break to take a 4-2 lead in the fifth set.

In another match, MaliVai Washington continued his penchant for losing five-set matches in Grand Slam tournaments.

Washington lost to Michael Stich in five sets in the Australian Open, to Guy Forget in five sets at the French Open and to Ivan Lendl in five sets at Wimbledon.

Advertisement

On another muggy day here at the U.S. Open, he completed a dubious Grand Slam of five-set defeats right back where he started, by losing again to Stich, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

Neither Stefan Edberg nor Lendl needed five sets to win third-round matches. Four sets were fine for them both. Edberg came from 0-5 down in the tiebreaker and labored 2 hours and 52 minutes in outlasting Jim Grabb, 7-6 (10-8), 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Lendl took out Todd Woodbridge, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.

Lendl’s reward is a fourth-round encounter with 6-foot-4, 19-year-old Goran Ivanisevic, who cracked 18 aces in a straight-set victory over Luiz Mattar. Edberg plays Chang in the fourth round.

Washington did not go quickly--Wimbledon champion Stich needed 3 hours 32 minutes--and that apparently was long enough for Washington to develop a strategy for future five-set encounters.

“What do I need to break through?” Washington said. “Having the guy break his ankle when I am playing in the fifth set.

“Naw, I’m not worried about my time coming. There are going to be times when I get lucky and the other guy is going to dump a few volleys or something like that.”

Washington, 21, is an up-and-coming second-year pro who left the University of Michigan after his sophomore year. Ranked No. 57, Washington pushed the No. 3-ranked and third-seeded Stich to just about his limit.

The only edge Stich needed was an early service break in the deciding set, which he clutched to his wet shirt and carried with him into the fourth round, where he will meet Derrick Rostagno.

Advertisement

In a record-tying performance loaded with tiebreakers, Rostagno defeated Jakob Hlasek, 6-7 (7-2), 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-4). It was only the fifth time in U.S. Open history that as many as four tiebreakers have been played in a men’s singles match.

Rostagno’s reaction: “Interesting.”

On Day 5, there were at last some interesting women’s singles results. Four seeded players lost third-round matches, led by fifth-seeded Mary Joe Fernandez, who injured her thigh and lost to Radka Zrubakova, 6-1, 6-2.

Fernandez made 47 unforced errors to 13 by Zrubakova, a 20-year-old Czechoslovak ranked No. 28.

“I wasn’t playing well anyway,” Fernandez said. “I just had a flat day. And you know, what can you do one of those days?”

It was also one of those days for 11th-seeded Katarina Maleeva, No. 13 Leila Meskhi and No. 15 Helena Sukova. Maleeva lost to Regina Rajchrtova, Meski lost to Gigi Fernandez and Sukova lost to Jo Durie.

In 59 minutes, Monica Seles breezed past Sara Gomer, 6-1, 6-4, and into the fourth round where she will play Rajchrtova. After stopping Gretchen Magers, 6-3, 6-4, third-seeded Gabriela Sabatini is set to play ninth-seeded Jana Novotna in the fourth round.

Jennifer Capriati, seeded seventh, won easily over Patricia Hy, 6-1, 6-4, and meets Durie in the fourth round.

Advertisement

But for the five-set experience, unlike Chang, Washington still is at loss. So far, playing five sets remains a learning experience, not a really negative one, said Washington, who said he doesn’t think going the distance and losing has taken its toll on him yet.

“If I lose my next five or six five-setters, then come back and ask me that,” Washington said. “I’ll probably say, ‘Go ask my psychiatrist.’ ”


Advertisement