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No. 2 Chang Carries U.S. Hopes Into Semifinal Against Rafter

September 06, 1997|MIKE DOWNEY

NEW YORK — The last American male left in the tournament, Michael Chang will continue a bid for his first U.S. Open tennis championship today with a semifinal match against Patrick Rafter of Australia.

From his youth in Orange County to the present, Chang, 25, has won tournaments all over the world, but lacks this one and Wimbledon, the jewels in the crown.

"Wimbledon would make me feel the best, because it's a surface [grass] I'm not expected to do well on," he said. "But the U.S. Open would mean the most, because it's my country's greatest tournament."

Chang, seeded second, has a 5-2 record against Rafter, who eliminated Andre Agassi in the fourth round. However, Rafter defeated Chang the last time they met.

Asked to tell what he had learned from that victory, Rafter laughed and said, "Right. Then Chang will be in here later, and you can tell him."

The other men's semifinal today pits Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden against Greg Rusedski of Britain, who has dedicated his efforts to the memory of Princess Diana.

Three-time champion Fred Perry was the last British player to win this tournament, in 1936.

As with Chang, if Rafter, Bjorkman or Rusedski wins the U.S. Open, it will be for the first time.

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