Defending champion Michael Chang needed another of his center court comebacks today to stay alive in the French Open. His opponent said he got some unfair help from the officials as well.
Andre Agassi, the top-ranked man left in the tournament as the No. 3 seed, advanced against the lowest-rated survivor, but lost a fashion battle with French tennis officials.Chang, who escaped from numerous tight spots a year ago to become the youngest man to win the clay-court Grand Slam event, did it again in the third round with a 2-6, 5-7, 6-0, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Swedish qualifier Christian Bergstrom.
The 18-year-old American turned the match around by winning nine games in a row in the third and the start of the fourth sets.
Bergstrom argued a line call on a key point in the last of those games and accused officials of favoring top players such as Chang on close shots. But by the time that point was played, Bergstrom already was tiring noticeably and Chang's shots were finding the mark.
"You can't let it bother you," Chang said of the disputed call. "It's frustrating when you have a call against you on a big point, but when the guy comes down from the chair and says it's out, you've got to go along."
Chang served out the fourth set with an ace, then got the break he needed in the final set when Bergstrom netted a backhand to give the defending champion a 4-3 lead.
By the end of the match, both players were spent, bending over to catch their breath between points. But Chang had enough strength left to serve out the victory, getting the final point on a backhand passing shot after 31/2 hours.
"I knew it would be a tough match," Chang said. "He's a Swede, which means he's good on clay. I had prepared my mind to be out there for quite some time, whether it was three sets, four sets or five sets."
Other early matches on the tournament's fifth day found seeded players having easier times.
Agassi beat Arnaud Boetsch of France 6-3, 6-2, 6-0. But the long-haired 20-year-old was told that his neon-bright pink-and-black tennis outfits would not be allowed back in the tournament next year. The French Tennis Federation said, it was "very bothered" by the colorful clothes and, as at Wimbledon, white must be the dominant color of a uniform.
Andrei Chesnokov, the men's eighth seed from the Soviet Union, beat Jordi Arrese of Spain 7-5, 6-4, 6-2, while American Jim Courier, the 13th seed, beat Johan Anderson of Australia 6-0, 6-2, 6-1.
The Agassi and Courier victories set up a rematch of last year's meeting, when Courier upset Agassi in the third-round meeting.
"We've always been sort of rivals," Courier said.
Conchita Martinez, a Spaniard seeded ninth in the women's draw, beat Radka Zrubakova of Czecholovakia 6-1, 6-3.
Fourth seeded Gabriela Sabatini had the easiest time, beating Nathalie Herreman of France 6-0, 6-1.
The match between the defending men's champion and the player ranked 106th in the world started sloppily and developed into high drama, The result saved the tournament from losing both of its titleholders before the third round was completed. Women's champion Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario was eliminated in the second round Thursday.