Wednesday, May 28, 2003
French (er . . . Freedom) Open
I was at home for lunch yesterday, and I realized that ESPN2 was running live coverage of the French Open. I turned it on to see who was playing. Turns out it was Michael Chang, my favorite Bible-bangin' tennis player. About to lose. Again.
I followed Chang for several years in the 90s, including 1996 and 1997, when he made it to the finals of three (different) Grand Slams . . . and lost. It was all downhill from there. I eventually stopped seeing him because he'd never make it past the second round of any widely televised tournament. He got injured a couple times. Ended up back on the Challenger Circuit.
When I caught up with Michael, he was down two sets and a break to Santoro. I'd already been at lunch for a while, but I kept watching. As usual, he was darting all over the court, digging balls out that most guys wouldn't even try to get. But Santoro had an answer for everything. I hoped for a miracle . . . that Michael would pull it out and force a fourth (and fifth) set. It just wasn't meant to be. He lost 7-5, 6-1, 6-1.
Afterward, the French crowd gave him a standing ovation. He'd completed his final appearance at the French Open . . . the only Grand Slam he'd ever won (at 17 in 1989). Michael was crying and waving back to the crowd, trying to show a brave face.
I hope he has a better run at the U.S. Open. It'd be sad to see him end his career losing in the first round of his final Grand Slam.
(The earnestness ends here, fuckers.)