PARIS — The morning after, Michael Chang slept late, got a massage, hit tennis balls for about 20 minutes at a private club, then watched it rain.
While a dejected Ivan Lendl left for London on a rainy Tuesday morning, Chang awoke as the toast of Paris.
A color photo of him falling to the ground on match point filled the front page of the newspaper L'Equipe. At the top of the page, this headline greeted him: Chang l'incroyable! Chang the incredible, all right. His five-set upset victory over Ivan Lendl in the French Open Monday was reported worldwide by the hundreds of journalists who are covering the tournament.
Here is a sampling of what was written.
Klaus-Peter Witt, Bild, Munich--"His legs were cramping. He had tears in his eyes. And he prayed. The kid, Michael Chang, 17, looked like he would rather die than lose."
Malcolm Folley, Daily Express, London--"Ivan Lendl fled from center court in tears here last night, humiliated by a cramp-crippled teen-ager serving under-arm."
E. Trier Hansen, Politiken, Copenhagen--"The youngest one ate bananas and poured water into himself while he crushed the biggest one. Afterward, Paris went totally bananas."
Murray Hedgcock, the Australian, Melbourne--"No matter whatever else Michael Chang achieves in his career, he shall forever have this brilliant moment that will go down in tennis history."
Perhaps no newspaper was more impressed by Chang's victory over Lendl and painful leg cramps than L'Equipe, the French daily newspaper covering sports:
"The small mosquito Chang stung the man who frightens children, Lendl. . . . Chang was near death, but then he took his heart in both hands, said a prayer and his prayer was answered."
Chang played the entire fifth set with muscle cramps in both thighs. That he not only continued to play, but also went on to beat Lendl, the No. 1 player in the world, seems to have struck an emotional chord in France and other countries.
Jeff Austin, Chang's agent at Advantage International, decided that his client needed rest rather than more exposure. Austin turned down requests from "Good Morning America" and "CBS Morning News" for live interviews with Chang.
Austin had all the calls to Chang's room switched to his own. "The phone stopped ringing about 1 a.m. and began again about 6," Austin said. "I'm just going to sit back and enjoy this tournament. I think Michael's got a real good chance at getting to the finals.
"In fact, I think he's going to win it."
That would really be \o7 incroyable.\f7