Battle-weary Tong blown away by Chang's power

Michael Chang's Salem Open campaign gathered momentum as he breezed through to the second round courtesy of a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Hong Kong hero Melvin Tong at Victoria Park yesterday.

Picking up where he left off when rain halted play on Tuesday night, with Chang leading 3-0, the world number three was on court for just 28 minutes in his triumph over the wild-card entrant.

Tong, who returned to the territory on Tuesday direct from Hong Kong's 4-1 Davis Cup victory over Saudi Arabia, was unable to cope with Chang's all-round strength.

The 22-year-old Hong Kong number one, the smallest player in the tournament, realised the yawning gap between himself and Chang, winning just 12 points.

Top-seeded Chang still showered praise on the Hong Kong player, who stands only 1.67 metres tall.

'He [Tong] played some pretty good tennis. It's not an easy thing to do coming from Saudi Arabia and playing today. He's got a good forehand and a good serve for his size. He'll continue to improve,' said Chang, who doesn't often play somebody smaller than his 1.75-metre frame.

'I've played only a handful of guys smaller than myself. Most of the guys I play are a bit bigger,' said the Chinese-American.

Chang closed out the first set in less than 10 minutes, and although Tong did well to hold his serve in the first game of the second set, it was all Chang from then on.

Tong tried everything he could to offset his more illustrious opponent. He played a crisp drop shot in the fifth game of the second set, but found himself stranded when Chang raced to the net to play a beautifully-placed drop shot of his own.

Tong managed to get to deuce in the seventh game on his service, but undid his good work by double faulting on the final point to hand Chang victory.

'I just enjoyed the match. It was a good chance to play Chang and I learnt a lot from playing him,' said Tong.

Chang set up a second-round clash with fellow American Jeff Tarango, who achieved notoriety two years ago by being thrown out of Wimbledon.

'He's not an easy player to play and he's capable of playing some good tennis. I expect another tough match,' said Chang.

Meanwhile, Patrick Rafter came back from a set down to post a 2-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 win over fellow Australian Mark Woodforde in a match twice halted by rain.

The 43rd-ranked Rafter started slowly but eventually found his range to beat his Davis Cup teammate to advance to the second round.

Fresh from helping his country thrash the Czech Republic 5-0 in Davis Cup, Rafter said he regretted that he had played the dead rubbers hung-over after a night of celebrations after Australian took an unassailable 3-0 lead. He said: 'I don't blame the media. It was totally my fault.

'I regret what I've done. I don't want to give children the wrong impression . . . that using alcohol wins matches. It was very rare to celebrate an occasion in that manner.' In the only upset of the day, South African Neville Godwin, ranked 91st in the world, defeated sixth seeded Martin Damm, the 44th-ranked player from the Czech Republic, 6-4, 6-3 to advance to the second round.

In the late match last night, third-seeded Australian Todd Woodbridge became the first player through to the quarter-finals when he defeated Britain's Danny Sapsford 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.