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Chang's Final Challenge Is Edberg in French Final

June 11, 1989|THOMAS BONK

PARIS — The days have gone quickly for Michael Chang these last two weeks on the same red clay where victory has come so slowly for American men.

If he wins today, he may even think about it sometime.

"I don't have time to think about it now," Chang said. "I know it's definitely been a great two weeks. And I know it's definitely going to be with me later. But I'm going to have to do my thinking later."

The greatest two weeks of Chang's career end today at Stade Roland Garros, where the 17-year-old from Placentia plays 23-year-old Stefan Edberg of Sweden in the final of the French Open for a $291,752 winner's share.

Edberg is ranked No. 3 in the world, and Chang is ranked No. 19.

If Chang wins, he will be the first American man to win here since Tony Trabert defeated Sven Davidson of Sweden in four sets in 1955.

Chang is the youngest French Open finalist and only the fifth American man in the Open era to advance this far. The others were Harold Solomon (1976), Brian Gottfried (1977), Vitas Gerulaitis (1980) and John McEnroe (1984).

They all lost, Solomon to Adriano Panatta of Italy, Gottfried to Guillermo Vilas of Argentina, Gerulaitis to Bjorn Borg of Sweden and McEnroe to Ivan Lendl of Czechoslovakia.

"Records are made to be broken," Chang said.

If Chang is a surprise finalist, so, too, is Edberg, who hopes to continue a recent Swedish tradition in this tournament. Borg won in 1974-75 and 1978-81. Mats Wilander won in 1982, '85 and '88.

Chang and Edberg have met three times, and Edberg has won two, although Chang won the last time they played, 6-3, 6-2, on the hard courts at Indian Wells.

"That was not one of my happiest moments on a tennis court," Edberg said, "so I have to give it to him on that surface. Right now, he's playing very well and with a lot of confidence."

* (Orange County Edition) CHANG'S TITLE MATCH

Placentia's Michael Chang, 17, takes on Stefan Edberg of Sweden in today's championship men's singles match. Story, Page 13.

TV: 8 a.m., Chs. 4, 36, 39 (tape delayed)

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