Sunday, October 28, 2007

1989 French Open Final: Chang def. Edberg

Chang def. Edberg: 6-1, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2
Classic: Yes
Rating: 93

The Plot: Michael Chang became the youngest ever man to win a grand slam singles title when he won the 1989 French Open. En route to the final, he beat heavy favourite Ivan Lendl in the 4th round in a match that tennis enthusiasts still talk about frequently. Stefan Edberg, the fluent Swedish serve-volleyer, had made a surprise run to the final, beating Boris Becker in a 5-set thriller in the semi-final.

The Match: Chang comes out firing and makes quick work of Edberg in the 1st set. But the Swede works his way into the match and takes control in the 2nd set. Once in control, Edberg is playing unbelievably well, serving and volleying with great authority, and even though Chang keeps getting the ball back, Edberg is on it every time. From breaking Chang late in the 2nd set, Edberg wins 7 consecutive games and is cruising in the 3rd set.

Edberg breaks Chang in the 1st game of the 4th set but is broken back immediately. Edberg has break chances in every Chang service game in the 4th set (9 total), but can't convert. Eventually Chang breaks Edberg at 5-4 to take the match into a deciding 5th set.

Edberg breaks Chang in the 1st game of the 5th set, only to be broken right back. Edberg looks tired and is broken again. Though he has several more break chances in the set, he can't convert. Serving at 2-5, Edberg goes down 15-40 and nets an easy forehand to hand Chang the match.

The bottom line: The level of tennis is high throughout, particularly so in sets 2, 3 and 4. Chang runs everything down from the baseline, and Edberg blankets the net, making one incredible volley after another. There are many spectacular points and winners, in particular off Edberg's backhand wing. The many momentum shifts, the contrast in playing style between Chang and Edberg, the importance of the occasion, along with the compelling background story, make this match qualify as a classic. It is highly recommended.

Stat of the match: Edberg had 25 break chances in the match, but converted only 6.

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