Tennis: Chang's trials become harder

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HENDRIK DREEKMAN extended the tribulations of the triple champion Michael Chang yesterday, the German rallying to beat the No 8 seed and eliminate him from the Salem Open in Hong Kong. The American, who has slumped to 40th in the weekly ATP Tour rankings, fell to Dreekman 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

"It is getting harder to win. I'm not playing the big points well and that makes a huge difference," Chang, a former winner of the French Open, said.

His compatriot Andre Agassi, a wild-card entry, continued his rehabilitation as he sped to a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Oliver Gross. "The wild card is doing its job," said Agassi, who will meet Nicolas Kiefer, of Germany, in the quarter-finals.

Boris Becker showed he is still a force as he defeated Wayne Ferreira 6-4, 7-6 to set up a meeting with Italy's Laurence Tieleman in the next round. The German, semi-retired from the ATP Tour, has played in only 11 Tour events in 1998. The Hong Kong tournament is his third in 1999, but he said his love of playing in front of a crowd kept his desire strong. "I still get a buzz from playing in front of a crowd. I'm a professional and they come to watch me. This is what motivates me and keeps me going," Becker said.

He hardly needed any outside persuasion to defeat the South African. Becker broke the sixth seed in the fifth game to win the first set and then outserved and outvolleyed Ferreira in the second-set tie-break.

Jennifer Capriati squandered opportunities to give her sagging career a boost on Wednesday night against Anna Kournikova at the Bausch & Lomb Championships, in Amelia Island, Florida.

Kournikova, the ninth seed, rallied from a break down in both sets and capitalised on the 23-year-old Floridian's unforced errors on critical points to win 6-3, 6-3.

The Russian, who now faces the top-seeded Lindsay Davenport, trailed 3-2 in the first set and 2-0 in the second, but rallied both times on the clay surface to win the next four games and regain control of the match.