- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Five years ago Michael Chang raised the trophy for his second consecutive championship at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, a time when he was still considered among the best players in the world.
Then, he ran opponents ragged with a flurry of flings from the baseline. As he's gotten older, he's had to change his game; he tried to bulk up so he could match the muscle of players as they got stronger through the '90s, but his strength compromised his mobility. His groundstrokes don't carry the pop they used to, so the 30-year-old Chang is mixing it up charging the net, serving and volleying and doing what ever it takes to win matches.
This aggressive, more carefree attitude "not being afraid to play anymore, not being afraid to lose," as he calls it has him comfortable with his play.
He got his tournament off to a positive start last night, when he locked up with Martin Lee in one of his traditional three-setters before winning 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 at William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center. The match was not the prettiest, but Chang gutted it out.
"It wasn't an easy match, but it's good for me. It definitely gets me going in this tournament," Chang said. "I feel my game is good enough to come in and knock off volleys. You've got to always take it to these guys."
Among seeded players, No. 12 Fernando Vicente, No. 14 Paradorn Srichaphan, No. 15 Jan Vacek and No. 16 Fernando Meligeni all won their first-round matches, but No. 13 Dominik Hrbaty was upset by Raemon Sluiter. No. 11 seed Jan-Michael Gambill played a late match.
Chang's best days, as he readily admits, have passed him. While he was regularly winning titles as recently as 1997, now he would be satisfied to simply reach the quarterfinals of a tournament, let alone win it. This year Chang has really had to battle, and he entered the Legg Mason at 4-14 on the year.
Chang's groundstrokes were sharp and he won though he deviated from his typical baseliner style he was aggressive in charging the net more than usual. He had his serve working, even rocketing a 114-mph serve in the third set, a mighty blast for the 5-foot-9 Chang.
The match had its momentum swings. Chang jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first set before Lee rallied to tie it at 4-all. Chang held serve for a 5-4 lead, then, when Lee dumped an overhead in the net, broke his opponent to win the first set.
In the second, Lee jumped to a 4-0 advantage and served for set at 5-2 but was broken as Chang rallied. Lee, a Briton, then held serve at 5-4 to win the set. Leading 3-2 in the third, Chang seized control when he broke Lee's serve in the sixth game then held to go up 5-2.
"In the second set I lost my way a little bit," Chang said. "Getting back in it really helped me in the third."
Chang reached the third round at the Masters Series Cincinnati event last week before losing to eventual champion Carlos Moya, so he's hoping he can build some momentum with a strong showing at the Legg Mason this week.
"The [U.S.] Open is just around the corner, so I need to gain some matches, gain some momentum," Chang said.
Chang will face the winner of Jerome Golmard and 11th seed Gambill tomorrow.

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