THE best laid plans of mice and men . . . and organisers went astray yesterday as the weather gods played their cruel fandango on centre court at Victoria Park. Nature led the organisers of the Salem Open Hong Kong tennis tournament a merry dance, with a stop-start rain, interrupting the second day's play in the territory's only ATP-recognised event. Perhaps the organisers should not have gone and scheduled 13 matches yesterday. Unlucky? It certainly was, as only four matches were completed - the happy players who beat the rain and their first round opponents being American Brad Gilbert and Australians Jamie Morgan, Patrick Rafter and Michael Tebbutt. With pregnant clouds hovering overhead, the rapidly-growing crowd, who had come to see the feature match of the day - Michael Chang v David Wheaton - were casting anxious glances upwards. They were worried that they would be unable to see their idol Michael, as he was due to come on to centre court after the game between American Ivan Lendl and Chinese-Canadian Albert Chang had finished. Lendl walked on to court at 4.48 pm. By 5.12 pm he was leading the tournament's other Chang - who by the way was as popular as Michael - 5-3 and serving to wrap up the set. It was at this time that the Gods, thought they should get in on the act. A fine drizzle, which had stopped play momentarily before the eighth game started, got stronger and the players had no option but to come off as the hard court surface was dangerously slippery. Lendl, seeded second here, was kept waiting until 8 pm, before being told by the organisers that his match had been postponed until today - and instead the Chang v Wheaton match would go on, once the rain stopped. ''We suspended Lendl's match basically because of the crowd,'' explained ATP official Meg Donovan yesterday. ''If he had played, the crowd might have only seen 45 minutes of tennis and would not have got the chance to see Michael.'' Trying to beat the rain, and hoping to give the crowd what they had come to see, the organisers sent the former world champion, one who had reigned as number one for the longest time (270 weeks), back to his hotel, and instead brought on Michael - Hong Kong's hero. Was this cavalier treatment or what, for one of the greatest talents tennis has ever seen (and probably will see), for one who had finished in the top 10 for 13 consecutive years and for one who has won the largest amount of career prize money (over US$20 million). ''No. They made the right decision,'' said Lendl, speaking to the South China Morning Post from his hotel room last night. ''It's fine by me that they suspended my match and brought on Michael.'' Was there a hint of irony? Perhaps it was a distortion over the telephone. But all the plans of the organisers - to provide the Hong Kong fans a glimpse of Michael - came to nought. The rain won.