Chang Reaches Paris Open Semis
PARIS (AP) _ Michael Chang saved a match point before beating Cedric Pioline 5-7, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 today in the semifinals of the Paris Open.
``It was a really tough fight and just came down to two or three points at the end,″ said Chang, whose best previous performances this year were semifinal appearances at San Jose and Shanghai.
Chang, ranked 72nd, is having his worst year since breaking onto the circuit a decade ago, but matched Pioline shot for shot as both players settled into a patient, baseline game.
After the 15th-seeded Pioline won the first set, both players created then wasted chances to win the second.
Serving at 3-4, Pioline volleyed weakly into the net at 30-30. On the next point, his volley was far too short and Chang lobbed a winner.
But Chang failed to hold service at 5-3, seeing an incredible backhand from Pioline whistle past him and hit the line at 30-40.
With Pioline serving at 5-6, Chang failed to take advantage of a set point and had to settle for the tiebreak.
In the deciding game, Pioline fought back from 1-4 to 6-5, but on match point missed a backhand. Chang clinched the tiebreak with a blistering forehand return.
In the deciding set, Chang hit another forehand winner to break Pioline’s service and gain a 5-4 lead.
Pioline, on his best ever run at the Paris Open, saved two match points in the next game before finally succumbing.