Saturday, August 14, 1999

Chang a winner despite loss

Calls 4-match tourney run an improvement

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Michael Chang had not won three straight matches in a tour event since February.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
| ZOOM |
        MASON — Michael Chang sighed and forced a smile. “Tough day at work today,” he said.

        Patrick Rafter had beaten him 6-2, 6-1 in a 65-minute Great American Insurance ATP quarterfinal Friday night, and Chang was in need of an alibi. Friday the 13th? Bad hair day?

        “Just a combination of Patrick playing well and me not,” Chang said.

        The moments of mortality come more often these days. Chang, ranked third in the world just 18 months ago, is down to No.58. He's 16-15 this year.

        Losing doesn't get easier. Chang, 27, has simply learned to shorten the mourning period.

        “If I analyzed every match of the year, I'd probably go nuts,” he said. “Sometimes you just have to file 'em away.

        “I don't think I should walk away feeling bad. Technically, this is still my best tournament of the year.”

        Chang had reached the quarters of only one other Mercedes Super 9 event this year — two weeks ago in Los Angeles — but had only to win two matches there over unranked foes. This week marked the first time he won three straight matches in a tour event since a tournament in San Jose in February.

        Chang beat 34th-ranked Marat Safin, No.8 Alex Corretja and No.26 Cedric Pioline here. “Things are looking better,” Chang said. “There was definitely improvement.”

        With a 38-10 mark here, Chang remains the winningest active player in tournament history. Having finally shaken a series of ailments, he remains hopeful for a rise in the rankings.

        “I've been so used to being in the top 10, it's kind of hard for me to gauge being out of it,” he said.


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