Rosset falls as MacPhie makes name for himself
Little-known American Brian MacPhie overshadowed the big names to reach his first ATP Tour semi-final last night at Victoria Park.
As Michael Chang continued his pursuit of a third Salem Hong Kong Open title by powering into the semi-finals, 308th-ranked MacPhie accounted for second-seeded Swiss Marc Rosset on his way to the last four.
MacPhie, 24, beat 18th-ranked Rosset 7-6 (7-2), 6-2 in a second-round match before overcoming Canada's Sebastien Lareau 6-3, 6-3 in the quarter-finals to book a semi-final clash against Australian fifth seed Patrick Rafter.
Rafter, the 1994 Hong Kong finalist, beat his Davis Cup teammate, third-seeded Todd Woodbridge 6-3, 6-1 in the quarter-finals.
MacPhie has already played more singles matches than any other player in the tournament as he needed two victories in the qualifiers to enter the main draw.
'I've always felt I have the capabilities to play good tennis,' said MacPhie. 'If the concentration is there I hope this can be a good jump start for me.' Chang, fresh from a night's rest, swept the four remaining games against fellow-American Jeff Tarango yesterday morning after rain halted their clash on Thursday night with Chang leading 6-4, 4-6, 2-1.
The top seed then overcame seventh-seeded German David Prinosil 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) in the quarter-finals last night to set up a semi-final showdown with in-form Swede Thomas Johansson, the fourth seed.
Chang, the winner here in 1994 and 1995, said the rain break may have been a factor in the way he easily disposed of Tarango yesterday morning.
Just before the weather intervened on Thursday night, Chang had saved three break points to lead 2-1 in the third set. Before that, Tarango had broken twice to win the second set.
'Jeff was on a roll last night for sure,' said Chang. 'I felt pretty comfortable in the second set and then he broke me twice and the match started to turn around.' Rosset, struggling to find his form since winning the European Community Championships in Antwerp two months ago, said tennis was not foremost on his mind.
'I don't know what went wrong . . . I have nothing to say,' said the 1992 Olympic gold medallist. 'I'm not really thinking about tennis at the moment. I have other things on my mind. I haven't been playing well for quite a while and I can't find a reason why.' Chang knows that, despite the departures of Rosset and Woodbridge, he still has a lot of work ahead of him.
'Thomas has won two tournaments this year and you know when you play a Swede you are going to have a tough match,' he said.
Johansson, ranked 39th in the world, is currently enjoying a hot streak, winning his last two tournaments in Copenhagen and St Petersburg and staying unbeaten in 14 matches. He reached the semi-finals with a 6-4, 6-4 win over American Justin Gimelstob.
Another player equipped to take the title is Rafter, winner of last year's Marlboro Hong Kong Championships. Rafter completed a 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, second-round victory over German Carsten Arriens yesterday morning in another rain-postponed match, before returning to court to oust Woodbridge.
The 43rd-ranked Rafter could figure in a rematch of the 1994 Salem Open final when, suffering from fever, he was easily beaten by Chang in two sets.
Like Chang, he was struggling against qualifier Arriens, trailing 1-2 in the final set before the weather halted the match. However, he played brilliantly yesterday to march into the last four.
'I didn't know what to expect today,' he said. 'But I was very happy with the way I played. I could do nothing wrong and I did not miss a ball.' Woodbridge was Rafter's second Australian victim of the tournament. In the first round, Rafter defeated another Davis Cup teammate, Woodbridge's doubles partner, Mark Woodforde.
Woodbridge and Woodforde, however, are still very much involved in the tournament after reaching the doubles semi-finals yesterday.
The world's number one pair overcame a second-set lapse to beat Doug Flach and Henrik Holm 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 in the quarter-finals.
They now meet the Czech pairing of Martin Damm and Daniel Vacek, who received a walkover from Prinosil and Guillaume Raoux.