Canada Flashback: Michael Chang edges Pete Sampras and reaches final

Born within a couple of years in the early 70s, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Michael Chang were among the world’s leading young guns in the late 80s and early 90s. The 17-year-old Chang won his first and only Major title at Roland Garros 1989, and Agassi took charge in 1990 to move in front of him and Sampras. At the end of July in Toronto, three young Americans were among the favorites at the Canada Open. Only one could advance into the title clash, as the draw arranged them in the same half. In the quarter-final, Chang toppled world no. 4 Agassi 7-5 in the third set to enter the last four and set the clash against Sampras. It was their fourth meeting on the Tour and the fourth triumph for Michael, who ousted Pete 3-6, 7-6, 7-5 in over two and a half hours for a place in the first Masters 1000 final. Sampras claimed two points more than Chang, and they both scored two breaks to remain neck and neck. Pete had more winners and forced more mistakes to build the lead he wasted in the unforced errors department, hitting 20 more than Michael and losing ground.

Michael Chang beat Pete Sampras in the 1990 Canada Open semi-final.

Sampras had the upper hand in the shortest rallies. Chang erased the deficit in the more extended exchanges to cross the finish line first and remain on the title course. Michael fended off two break chances in the encounter’s second game with winners and another at 1-2 to avoid an early setback. Pete finally grabbed a break in the sixth game to build the advantage and held at 15 a few minutes later to move 5-2 in front. Chang saved two set points in the eighth game before Sampras held at 15 in the next one to claim the opener in style. Michael raised his level in set number two, and they both served well until 4-4. The younger American brought the ninth game home after two deuces, and the set went into a tie break.

Michael stayed focused and claimed it 7-5 when his opponent sprayed a forehand mistake. Chang got broken for the second and last time in the third set’s second game and wasted three break chances in the next one to fall 3-0 behind. Michael pulled a break back at 1-3 after an exceptional defense and held at love to bring the result back to 3-3. Losing ground in those moments, Pete saved a break point in the next one, and they stayed close to each other until 5-5. In the decisive moment of the entire clash, Sampras sprayed a backhand mistake in the 11th game to suffer a break and push the rival in front. Chang held after deuce at 6-5 to seal the deal and score the fourth straight victory over a compatriot.