Classic Rivalries – Chang vs. Edberg
Michael Chang and Stefan Edberg had a pretty deep rivalry in the 80s and 90s. Most will remember them for one of the most classic Grand Slam finals of all time: the 1989 French Open final. That year, Michael Chang came into the French Open as a 17-year-old 15th seed and worked himself through the draw, famously beating Ivan Lendl in the round of 16 after being down two sets. In the final, he would again come back from behind to win against the number three seed, Stefan Edberg. This time though, he would come back from two sets to one, and claim his first and only Grand Slam.
Although many remember this match, many don’t remember that these two would play 31 times during their careers, with Edberg leading the rivalry 12-8. That’s a pretty competitive rivalry if you ask me. However, it’s not surprising. Although Chang does not have the Grand Slam numbers Edberg has, Chang was a consistent top 10 player and routinely beat former number 1s, such as Sampras, Lendl, and Agassi in big time tournaments – especially on hard courts. In all, Edberg and Chang would contest four tournament finals. Let’s take a look at the other three finals they contested other than the 1989 French open final:
3. 1990 Los Angeles: approximately one year after the French Open final, Edberg and Chang would meet once again in a tournament final. This time it would be in Chang’s home turf of California. By this time Edberg had begun to play spectacularly not just on grass courts, but on hard courts as well. Edberg would go on to win the US Open in 91’ and 92’. He would also get past Chang in this hard-fought final, winning in three tough sets 7-6, 2-6, 7-6.
2. 1993 ATP Masters Cincinnati: the first of two back-to-back Cincinnati finals these two would dispute, Edberg would be coming into the hard-court swinging as the two-time defending US Open champion and the king of the hard courts. Edberg had established his dominance on the tour finishing both 91’ and 92’ as the top ranked player. That being said, Chang was on the rise. In 1992 he had won both the Indian Wells Masters and the Miami Masters. Chang would be looking to add to his Masters collection, and would not be denied. He would win in three tough sets. The final score would read 7-5, 0-6, 6-4.
1. 1994 ATP Masters Cincinnati: The last final these two would dispute would be a rematch of the previous year’s Cincinnati final. This time around, Michael Chang would not have a problem with Stefan Edberg, who would see a sharp decline in his game after 1994. Edberg would drop out of the top 10 in 1995 and retire in 1996 at age 30. Also, this would be the last time Edberg would make a big-time tournament final. So, in a way, it was Chang that sent Edberg into retirement. The final score was 6-2, 7-5.
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