Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Chang Chugs along with Sights on Top 2

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Chang Chugs along with Sights on Top 2

Article excerpt

Smoothly and quietly, Michael Chang is sneaking ahead at the Australian Open, winning in straight sets while other top seeds struggle, shrugging off the searing heat that everyone else fears.

The slogan on Chang's T-shirt Friday might well have been his motto, "Go To Work," something he's been doing here with little fuss and much success.

Chang's latest victory, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6) over Guillaume Raoux, put him into the fourth round with less strain than any of the seeded players ahead of him.

Chang's way into the fifth round became a little easier when No. 11 Richard Krajicek retired with a back injury in the third set against Jean-Philippe Fleurian. Though Fleurian beat former champion Stefan Edberg in the previous round, he's likely to find Chang a much tougher opponent.

As the rubberized hardcourts burned with a temperature near 90 degrees, the heat took its toll on players and fans alike.

No. 3 Thomas Muster, as fit as anyone, looked exhausted at the end of his 6-4, 7-6 (11-9), 6-4 over Nicklas Kulti.

Chang is playing with the ease and confidence of a man who truly believes he can win this Grand Slam event, no matter that most people think it'll come down to No. 1 Pete Sampras against No. 2 Andre Agassi.

"I think I'm gaining on them," Chang said. "My game is continuing to improve, and I think that Pete and Andre have kind of reached their peak of their tennis careers. I kind of still feel my best years of tennis are still ahead of me."

All the players seeded higher than Chang have had to toil harder so far in the tournament. Sampras struggled in his first match, and had to go to four sets in his second match. Agassi opened with a five-setter, Muster played four the second round, and No. 4 Boris Becker played back-to-back five-setters.

Sampras and Becker both complained about how much harder these Rebound Ace courts are on their feet and back than the hardcourts of the U. …

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