Chang Slumps to First Round Exit

WIMBLEDON, England -- Todd Woodbridge was unwilling to bow out, even as he and Michael Chang walked off Center Court at Wimbledon.


Chang, mindful of protocol regarding royalty at the All England Club, shot his opponent a look.


"He thought I'd forgotten to bow,'' Woodbridge said. "But I said, 'They're not here.' He said, 'Oh,' and that was it. You don't have to bow when they're not sitting there.''


For Chang, it was another awkward exit at Wimbledon.


The tenacious American rallied from a 5-1 deficit in the final set Tuesday but couldn't finish off Woodbridge, who won 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 6-2, 3-6, 8-6. The match began in sunshine and ended in overcast twilight three hours and 55 minutes later.


Chang lost in the opening round at Wimbledon for the fourth time and the second year in a row.


"I had opportunities today to fight my way through,'' he said. "Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be.''


The 25-year-old Chang has never reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 10 tries. Partly for that reason, he was seeded fifth even though he's ranked second.


Chang arrived in London with little momentum. He won four tournaments in the first four months of the year but hasn't reached a final in his past six tournaments. He lost in the fourth round at the French Open.


"I haven't been able to do as well on the clay or the grass as I have on the hardcourts,'' he said. "That's a little bit disappointing.''


Chang was 11-2 previously against Woodbridge, an Australian ranked 37th. But this time Chang kept falling behind, and he trailed 4-0 and 5-1 in the last set before mounting a final charge.


"Sometimes you fall short,'' Chang said, "but at least the guy knows I'm going to be fighting until the last point is hit. It's been instilled in me not to give up.''


Woodbridge appeared on the verge of collapse when he double-faulted twice when serving for the match making it 5-5. Chang held serve for a 6-5 lead, but Woodbridge regrouped, evened the set at 6-all and broke at love in the pivotal 13th game.


"It could have been easy for him to roll over me,'' Woodbridge said. "I was able to take it on the chin and keep at him.''


Woodbridge and partner Mark Woodforde are going for a fifth consecutive Wimbledon doubles title, but singles success has been elusive for the 26-year-old Aussie.


"This could be my biggest win,'' he said. "When you win a match as huge as that on Center Court at Wimbledon -- the crowd was like bananas and at the end there were [camera] flashes going off and it was a bit like a pop concert.


"When you're in the middle of that, it's a huge feeling.''


Pete Sampras was the most impressive winner Tuesday, cruising to a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 win over Sweden's Mikael Tillstrom. He lost serve once in the first set but was never troubled the rest of the match.


Sampras said he felt at home again after a poor clay-court season which included a third-round loss at the French Open.


Another American, 1993 runner-up Jim Courier, lost in straight sets to 1991 champion Michael Stich, 7-6 (7-0), 7-5, 7-6 (7-2).


Of the 14 American men in the draw at the start of Wimbledon, seven have already lost. Sampras is the only American seed left.


In other games, Jonas Bjorkman, who was given the No. 17 seed when Thomas Muster withdrew, didn't stay around long. He lost his opener to Britain's Chris Wilkinson 7-6 (7-5), 0-6, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.


No. 3 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who lost in the first round last year to Britain's Tim Henman, had little trouble this time, dropping only six games in a 6-4, 6-2, 6-0 victory over Juan-Antonio Marin of Spain.


In women's matches, No. 13 seed Kimberly Po, a 25-year-old American, lost 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 to Kerry-Anne Guse of Australia. No. 15 Ruxandra Dragomir lost 10-8 in the third set to Andrea Glass of Germany.


Detroit Red Wings star Sergei Federov, making his first visit to Wimbledon, sat in the Centre Court box for players' guests Tuesday.


The ticket came from his girlfriend, fellow Russian Anna Kournikova, who won her first-round match against Chanda Rubin 6-1, 6-1.


Kournikova turned 16 on June 7. When asked about Federov, she smiled coyly and said, "I am single.''