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Michael Chang

Sport: Tennis

Born: February 22, 1972

Town: Hoboken

Michael Chang was born February 22, 1972, in Hoboken. He was introduced to tennis at a very young age by his father and first coach, Joe Chang. Michael was also coached by his older brother, Carl, for the majority of his career. At age 12, Michael won his first national title in the USTA Junior Hard Court singles, and at 13 won the Fiesta Bowl 16s. Two years later, at 15, he won the USTA Boys 18s Hard Courts and the Boys 18s Nationals.

That same year, Michael became the youngest player to win a main draw match in the US Open, defeating Paul McNamee in just four sets in the first round. He reached the semifinals in Scottsdale, Arizona a month later, becoming the youngest player to reach the semifinal round of any top-level professional tournament. In February of 1988, Michael dropped out of the 10th grade and passed his GED to focus on his professional tennis career. He won his first top-level singles title in 1988 a few months before his 17th birthday.

Michael's most famous win came in the fourth round of the French Open in 1989, when Michael played three-time former French Open champion Ivan Lendl. Heavily favored, top-ranked Lendl seemed to have already claimed the victory after winning the first two sets. However, Michael recovered to win the third set. He started experiencing intense leg cramps in the fourth set, although he still leveled the match by taking the set. Michael considered forfeiting the match in the fifth set, but continued playing. His strategy to combat his leg cramps was to break Lendl's concentration, hitting "moon balls" to slow the game down, serving under-hand, standing on top of the service line while Lendl was serving, and stopping to get water and eat bananas at every opportunity. MichaMChang92Classicel successfully threw off Lendl's rhythm, causing him to become extremely frustrated. Miraculously, Michael was able to distract Lendl just enough to win the match.

Fully recovered, Michael became the youngest male player to win a Grand Slam title after defeating Stefan Edberg in the finals. In August of that year, Michael was the youngest player to be listed among the world's Top Five in men's singles. Michael was also the first American man to win at the French Open since 1955.

In 1990, Michael helped the US team win the Davis Cup for the first time since 1984. In 1992, he faced McNamee once again, this time at the US Open. Their 5-hour, 26-minute match was the longest in US Open history, ending in a victory for McNamee. Michael was later on the winning US Team for the World Team in 1993. Michael reached Grand Slam finals three more times, losing, in the 1995 French Open, the 1996 Australian Open, and the 1996 US Open.

Michael retired from professional tennis in 2003, with 34 top-level singles titles and $19,145,632 in winnings. He was ranked #2 in the world after his performance at the 1996 US Open. He was a top ten player for six consecutive years from 1992 to 1997. He is one of few to win ATP titles in three separate decades and won three Indian Wells Masters—a record only matched by Roger Federer.

Michael served as a spokesperson for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. In 2008, he served as a goodwill ambassador for the Beijing Olympics bid committee.


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