Edberg and Chang in Hong Kong
by Ma. Rosanna Mina
from ABS CNB News
HONG KONG. The rain may have dampened the spirits of spectators at the 2010 Hong Kong Tennis Classic on Thursday, but it did not stop them from witnessing superb tennis courtesy of Michael Chang of the United States and Stefan Edberg of Sweden.
The legends faced off in a tie-break set, with Edberg prevailing at 6-4.
"It was a great night," Edberg said after the match that had witty banter, antics, sweet volleys and light rainfall.
Their match, as well as the 3 other scheduled matches in Victoria Park, were cut short from 3 sets to a tie-break set due to the rain delay which lasted for around 4 hours.
The spectators were a bit unhappy about the change of format but they were still treated to a night of exciting tennis.
The Hong Kong Tennis Classic world team challenge semifinals stage continued on Thursday between defending champion Team Americas and Team Europe.
Team Europe, composed of Edberg, Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka, denied Team Americas the chance to defend its title. The Europeans defeated Argentine Gisela Dulko and Americans Chang and Venus Williams, 3-1.
Williams got past Wozniacki, 6-4, while Azarenka crushed Dulko, 6-1. Edberg and Wozniacki, meantime, beat Chang and Williams, 7-5.
Team Europe will face Team Russia (Maria Sharapova, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Vera Zvonareva) in the Gold Group Final while Team Americas will battle Team Asia Pacific (Paradorn Srichaphan, Zheng Jie and Ayumi Morita). The winner of the Gold Group trophy will be known on Saturday.
Thursday's highlight was the thrilling match between Edberg and Chang. Although they played for less than an hour, they still drew the loudest cheers and applause.
The former professional players held serve until 3-3. Edberg fired sweet volleys and passing shots. He even hit the ball between his legs. Chang had his share of volleys and passing shots.
Swede Stefan Edberg thrills the fans at the Victoria Park in his match against American Michael Chang. (Photo by Rosanna Mina, abs-cbnNEWS.com)
The American broke the Swede to lead at 4-3 but Edberg answered with a break to level at 4-4.
Light rain began to fall but the players continued their match. When Chang was feeling the court with the soles of his shoes, the former French Open champion even did the moonwalk and other dance moves.
Edberg was encouraged by the crowd to dance and he glided while feeling the court. The former World No. 1 and 6-time grand slam champion held serve then broke Chang to close the match at 6-4.
After a rally at the beginning of the match, a spectator yelled: "Aren't you supposed to be retired?" Edberg replied, "I am most of the time."
When Chang levelled at 1-1, Edberg commented: "You haven't retired either, have you?"
The legends even grunted during the 2nd game of the match, drawing laughter from the crowd. They also challenged a few calls using the Hawkeye system. Chang said they did not have that back in their day.
Venus holds off Caroline
The ladies' singles matches which preceded the Chang vs Edberg match delighted the crowd as well.
Team captains Wiliams and Wozniacki had an exchange of breaks but the American had the edge with her aces.
"Caroline, she's a such a great player," noted Venus after the match. She said she hoped to keep Team Americas close at the tie.
Wozniacki broke Williams, 3-1, then Williams returned the break at 3-2. Williams held serve to even the score then broke Wozniacki, 4-3.
The American went on to lead at 5-4. She was serving for the match at 0-30 when light rain began to fall. The match was halted for a moment to determine if it was safe for the ladies to continue playing.
Williams eventually closed off the match, 6-4. Wozniacki even challenged the final point but her shot was really out.
Earlier, Azarenka dominated Dulko, leading the match at 4-0. She continued her run at 4-1, then 5-1, before winning at 6-1.
Their match was stopped at 1-0, with Azarenka scoring the early break. The lady from Belarus was serving at deuce.
The rain delay did not seem to affect Azarenka but she said, "It's too bad we cannot play the full match."
Dulko, meanwhile, shared with the press what they were doing while waiting for the rain to stop. "Just waiting, looking at the sky... Just laughing and talking all the time."
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