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Petchey Serves Up an Upset of Chang : Tennis: With strong second serve, Englishman ousts top-seeded player.

August 03, 1994|WENDY WITHERSPOON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Michael Chang, seeded No. 1 in the Los Angeles Open, was upset in the first round Tuesday by a tennis player from Great Britain who resembled a runaway trolley.

Chang, the sixth-ranked player in the world, relishes wearing opponents down during long matches, but he could do nothing to slow Mark Petchey, ranked 89th.

Petchey used a blistering second serve to oust Chang, 7-5, 6-2, punctuating his victory with an overhead slam, then held his arms above his head and yelled at the sky.

Chang left the court looking stunned.

"I was a little bit surprised that he was going for his second serve as much as he did," Chang said. "He was pretty successful using the corners and hitting the lines. I think it's easier to do that when you can go out and play in a match and not be under any pressure, not have anything to lose out there, just kind of go out and swing away."

Petchey hit seven aces, four of which came on second serves, and won 20 of 35 second-serve points.

"I got my rhythm on my serve really easily in the last couple days and I knew against Michael I had to hit big second serves," Petchey said. "Anything short and he would just clock it for a winner.

"It was probably not that exciting because there were not too many rallies, but it was the only way I was going to beat him, me just kicking my serve and then coming in."

The turning point came when Petchey broke Chang, of Placentia, to take a 6-5 lead in the first set. Petchey won the set on an ace and then gave up only two points in winning the first three games of the second set.

For Petchey, it was his biggest victory since defeating Michael Stich in the first round of the South African Indoor Championships in March. Chang has lost in first rounds five times in the 40 ATP tournaments he has played since turning professional in 1988.

The last time Chang lost in the first round of the L.A. Open was in '88 to David Pate.

Chang said he was physically sound, but mentally frustrated. He lost in the round of 16 in the Players Limited International at Toronto last week to MaliVai Washington. It is the first time since April 1993 that Chang has lost consecutive matches.

"I don't think he played his best match, let's put it like that," Petchey said.

Chang had two break-point opportunities and won one.

"It's tough to be a fighter when you're not able to do what you want to do," Chang said. "Some of the shots I was missing were just ridiculous."

The upset was particularly surprising because Chang, the 1989 French Open champion, has been a consistent presence in the late rounds of the L.A. Open. He was a finalist last year, losing to Richard Krajicek. He also lost in the 1989 final, to Aaron Krickstein, and in the 1990 final, to Stefan Edberg.

"I would have liked to have had a really good week here in L.A., because for one thing, it's very close to home and another thing, it's a place that I enjoy playing," Chang said.

In other matches, Tuesday, second-seeded Boris Becker defeated Grant Stafford of South Africa, 7-5, 6-3, in a first-round match.

It is the first time Becker has played in the L.A. Open. Many wondered why Becker decided to play this year.

"It's kind of boring to play the same kind of tournament (every year). It's good to make a change in your scheduling, and that's why," Becker said.

But Becker, who said he hopes to get in a round of golf today, is not taking the tournament too seriously.

"It's just not one of the biggest tournaments in the world," Becker said.

In the featured night match, third-seeded Andre Agassi defeated Nicklas Kulti of Sweden, 6-2, 6-1.

The victory appeared easy for 15th-ranked Agassi, although he said he did not take the match lightly.

"A guy like Nicklas Kulti, you know, if you're not playing your strengths well, he can look like an incredible tennis player," said Agassi, who lost to 83rd-ranked Kulti in the first round of the Stockholm Open in 1990. "The fact that I was on my game so well, I really kind of made it look easy."

If Agassi, who won the Players' Limited International in Toronto last week, continues to play the way he played on Tuesday, he might just make the rest of his matches in this tournament look easy too.

Tennis Notes

It is surprising the L.A. Open does not have radar equipment to monitor the speed of serves considering that Richard Krajicek, the two-time defending champion, is playing. Pre-tournament news releases said Krajicek's serves have reached 132 m.p.h., the second-fastest ever recorded on the ATP tour. But without the equipment, L.A. Open crowds are left guessing. . . . Prize money in the tournament is $313,750 rather than the $325,000 previously reported. . . . Tuesday's crowd of 14,127 set a tournament record for single-day attendance.

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