Michael Chang recalls underarm serve against Ivan Lendl at 1989 French Open


Michael Chang recalls underarm serve against Ivan Lendl at 1989 French Open
Michael Chang recalls underarm serve against Ivan Lendl at 1989 French Open

Former world No. 2 Michael Chang has recalled his decision to pull off an underarm serve in the fourth round of the French Open in 1989 as his thinking at the time was that he needed to do something no one expected to see.

Chang, who was just 17 years when he played the French Open in 1989, recovered from two sets down to stun Ivan Lendl, who at the time was ranked at No. 1 in the world. While up 4-3 in the fifth set and down 15-30 in his service game, Chang felt the momentum was changing a bit and he pulled off an underam serve -- the serve was successful and the American managed to close out the match.

"It obviously surprised him," Chang told CNN Sport. "But I think it shook him up a bit because after that point, it became not just a physical battle but a mental one as well. "My serve was very soft at the time because I couldn't really use my legs, just basically rolling my arm over," said Chang.

"Being down 15-30 I was on the verge of losing serve again. I was thinking to myself, 'I gotta hit something different here because sooner or later Ivan is going to pick up what he needs to do and I'm going to end up losing.'


Michael Chang reveals he was a bit afraid of Lendl's reaction afterwards

Chang and Lendl met a few weeks later at Wimbledon but it all went just well. "I'm still 17 years old, he's still No. 1 in the world and I'm like, 'What is he going to say?'" Chang said.

"I kind of kept my head down and walked to the side and he didn't have any of it. He was bee lining toward me. I was like, 'I can't avoid this now,' because there was this little walkway where it's only maybe 12 steps wide. "So he walks up straight toward me and I was like, 'How are you doing?' He put his hand out, looked me straight in the eye and shook my hand and goes, 'Michael, incredible job at the French Open.

Congratulations.' "When you see him today and on the tennis court, he's very serious, very professional, very intense, very much that mentality. But off the court if anybody knows him, very different. Likes to be humorous, talking a lot, engaging a lot." Michael Chang eventually made it all the way that year at the French Open and that turned out to be his lone Grand Slam title captured.

Michael Chang Ivan Lendl French Open

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