Chang in struggle against Tarango

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 April, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 April, 1997, 12:00am

Top seed Michael Chang saved three break points to take a 2-1, third-set lead before rain stopped play for the day at the Salem Hong Kong Open last night.

World number three Chang was starting to come under pressure from a pumped up Jeff Tarango in a second-round match at Victoria Park, dropping his serve twice in the second set and allowing his opponent to level.

Fifth-seeded Australian Patrick Rafter also had a fight on his hands. He was trailing 1-2 in the third against German qualifier Carsten Arriens, having needed a tie-break to win the second set and draw even.

For Chang, it all seemed routine after eight games of the match when he broke Tarango's serve to lead 5-3.

Although the 72nd-ranked Tarango broke right back, Chang retrieved the service advantage to win the set 6-4.

Six games into the second set, Chang again appeared to be in control when he broke Tarango to lead 4-2.

Tarango, who had several arguments with the chair umpire over line calls, refused to give up.

He was quickly back on equal terms, breaking Chang to make it 3-4 and then held his own serve to level it at 4-4.

But he wasn't finished there. In the next game Tarango punished Chang's serve, unleashing a huge roar as his backhand cross-court beat Chang and allowed him to earn the decisive break of the set. Tarango took the set 6-4.

Chang had to fight hard to preserve his serve in the third game of the final set before it started to drizzle and the two players were forced to leave the court.

The rain delay may allow Chang time to start afresh as Tarango held the upper hand and an upset looked possible.

Tarango came back from 1-4 down in the second set of his first-round clash with Russian Andrei Cherkasov to win 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-0.

Rafter, who needed three sets to defeat countryman Mark Woodforde in the first round, was struggling to come to terms with Arriens.

After losing the first set 4-6, he squandered a 5-3 second-set lead before squaring the match on the tie-break.

Organisers are now facing a heavy backlog of matches today with three days of the tournament remaining and only Australia's third seed Todd Woodbridge and seventh-seeded David Prinosil, of Germany, through to the quarter-finals.

No play was possible yesterday afternoon.