Top-seeded Michael Chang overcame a slow start to beat South Africa's Grant Stafford 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 for the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships title.

To win his fourth title of the year and the 30th of his career, Chang had to withstand a spirited early effort from the 25-year-old Stafford.The unseeded South African, who eliminated eighth-seeded Australian Sandon Stolle, defending champion Fernando Meligeni of Brazil and sixth-seeded American Chris Woodruff en route to the final, matched Chang shot for shot in the first set.

With a one-set lead, Stafford had a chance to increase the pressure on Chang in the second set when he reached break point on the top seed's serve. But Stafford missed his opportunity when he sent a backhand service return into the net.

"That was a big point," said Stafford. "I think if I'd got that break it might have been a different story."

Given a reprieve, Chang abruptly changed the tone of the match, winning 10 of the next 11 points and taking control. After holding serve for a 1-0 advantage, Chang broke Stafford at love with a pair of service return winners, then held again for 3-0. Chang then sailed through the set without much resistance from a discouraged Stafford.

"He definitely picked it up in the second set," Stafford said. "I figured I'd just hang in there and see if he'd make a couple mistakes and let me back in the door, but he didn't."

Stafford made a brief stand at the start of the third set, breaking Chang's serve at love.

"I got a jump on him in the second set," said Chang, who'll move up to No. 2 in the world when the ATP Tour rankings are released next week. "I think he might have had a little letdown after he missed that breaker."

Stafford, who entered the week with a career mark of only 2-6 on clay, credited a change in tactics for his successful run.

"In the past I'd stay back and try to rally from the baseline with these guys," he said. "But I realized after a while it was pointless trying to beat clay courters at their own game."

For Stafford, who came into the week ranked 73rd, the appearance in the finals will probably move him into the low 60s.

Rios wins in Monte Carlo

MONTE CARLO, Monaco - Monte Carlo has finally paid off for Marcelo Rios.

The Chilean joined the growing list of French Open possibilities by capturing his first Mercedes Super 9 title on Sunday by defeating Alex Corretja 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 in the Monte Carlo Open final.

"I always have a good time when I come here, playing, going to the Casino and losing money," Rios joked.

The victory moved Rios up to No. 8 in the ATP Tour world rankings and added $337,000 to his bank account. But perhaps more important, it gives Rios confidence heading into the next Grand Slam tournament, the French Open.

"I had a lot of confidence today. I think it's very important to win my first Super 9 event," Rios said. "It's also great to have your father with you when you win your first great tournament. I didn't know he was coming."

The victory by Rios stopped a Spanish run in clay court tournaments. Spaniards, including Corretja two weeks ago at Estoril, Portugal, won the first two clay court tournaments of the season.

Sunday's 2-hour, 14-minute final was marked by steady but unspectacular tennis as the players barely approached the net. But Rios was ahead from the start as he became the first South American to win Monte Carlo since Argentina's Alberto Mancini in 1989.

"I broke him in the first game and that gave me a lot of confidence," Rios said. "I also broke him in the first game of the second set."

In the third set, Rios moved comfortably ahead, then had trouble finishing the match. Rios wasted four match points and Corretja squandered three break points with a variety of bad misses.

Twice Rios was at the net on match point, ready to put away floaters for the victory. Twice he failed.

Rios reached match point again with a deep forehand winner. This time he completed the victory with an easy smash.

Rios, as with past Monte Carlo winners, must now be considered among the favorites for the French Open, which begins May 26 and highlights the clay-court season.

Pete Sampras has won the last two Grand Slam tournaments - the U.S. Open last September and the Australian Open in January - but lost his first match at Monte Carlo.

The tournament lost 10 of the top 16 players by the second round, with Sampras, Boris Becker and three-time champion Thomas Muster eliminated in one afternoon.

Before the final, the 100th anniversary of the tournament was celebrated with a number of former champions, including Bjorn Borg and Andrei Chesnokov, the latter appearing on crutches. Chesnokov broke his leg on court during a match in February.

Coetzer wins Budapest title

BUDAPEST, Hungary - Amanda Coetzer made the most of her late entry in this tournament, defeating Sabine Applemans 6-1, 6-3 Sunday to capture the Budapest Ladies Open.

"It was a last-minute decision for me to come and play in Budapest, but it was worth it," Coetzer said. "And gave me a good start to the clay-court season."

Coetzer, the No. 4 seed from South Africa, won the first set in 26 minutes. She tested her Belgian opponent with long exchanges and dropped only the third game of the set.

Tied 2-2 in the second set, Coetzer won her own serve at love and went on to break serve. Applemans was again beset by unforced errors.