In 1989, you were a teenager. While you were trying hard to win a match in the tournament of your local club in Barnsley, a cheeky kid was surprising everyone by winning Roland Garros. Standing just 5 feet 9 and with a tennis as cunning as it was unspectacular, you immediately saw yourself in him. For ten years you endured teasing and humiliation with dignity after every defeat against the superior Sampras, Agassi and Becker. You, your thing was David against Goliath. You, you were a fan of Michael Chang.
... Your champion is one of the few to have defeated Jimmy Connors as well as Roger Federer. Yes, Connors was a grandpa and Roger a kid. So what?
... Faith? What faith? You need a little faith to be amongst the best in the world when you're not even 6 feet during the wild era where giants like Becker, Krajicek, Ivanisevic, Rosset or Philippoussis were running freely on lightning-fast surfaces...
... Unlike many, you know who’s the mysterious Luigi he thanked after losing in 1995 French Open final against Muster.
…You almost passed out while watching the match in the last 16 when the American imp decided to serve underarm and the ogre Lendl made a double-fault. Five years later, McEnroe took his revenge.
... The day after, you rushed to the local record store to buy all the available albums of Enrico Macias.
... When you play with your friends, the underarm service is a bare minimum in every game. Even if it doesn't surprise anyone anymore and you lose the point each time.
... You don't miss an opportunity to remind everyone that, before Jim Courier and Andre Agassi, it was your favourite player who re-opened the road to success for Americans at Roland Garros. And you show off your culture by citing Tony Trabert, winner in 1955.
... You too, are playing with a racquet that has a handle as long as Todd Martin and a screen as wide as Jeff Tarango’s head.
... You cherish this triple 6/1 inflicted by little Michael on his compatriot Pete Sampras in the second round of Roland Garros in 1989.
... You cherish everything about the 1989 French Open, actually. Is it better to win 14 Grand Slam tournaments, or just one, but such a memorable one?
... But, when you're honest with yourself, you remember how much suffering was caused by Pete Sampras. And you try not to think about Andre Agassi. Not to mention Boris Boom-Boom. A real ordeal…
... You are the only tennis fan who hates Patrick Rafter. This U.S. Open of 1997 was Michael’s destiny. This defeat, you know that it's the one that destroyed your idol.
... You don't have a lot of good memories associated with grass courts. 11 quick eliminations in 14 attempts at Wimbledon. For you, Guillermo Vilas said it best: "Grass is for cows.”
... It makes you laugh that everybody loves Djokovic's defence. The swiftest pair of legs that tennis has ever seen come from Hoboken, New Jersey, not Belgrade.
... In every local tombola you take the number 10. Like the number of break points saved by Michael in the 4th set of his Roland Garros final against Edberg.
... You remember the gorgeous forehands of Ronald Agenor and Andrei Chesnokov. And yes, between Lendl and Edberg, these two on the road to the title in Paris.
... You are aware of the cruel ingratitude of sport: you can accumulate a Grand Slam, a Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, 7 Masters 1000 and 34 titles, and still only be the No. 4 in your country. With the same track record, Andy Roddick was the American No. 1 for ten years.
... Like Alex Corretja, you know that whenever Pete Sampras vomited, it was a bad omen for his opponent.
... It was weird for you to see Lleyton Hewitt arrive. A kid without complexes, with a sharp eye to compensate for his petite figure... it reminded you of someone… On another hand, what’s with this angry "Come on!"? Not your cup of tea at all.
... The ATP website lists 21 players named Chang. But in your eyes there’s only one. Ok, maybe two: in your infinite kindness, you recognize the merits of Carl Chang, the big brother, poor player but deserving coach of his younger brother.
... Rafa, precocious? At an age when Michael was beating Edberg in the final of Roland Garros, Nadal was beating Tomas Zib in the final of the Segovia Challenger.
... You know that the concept of a farewell tour is definitely better suited to music than to tennis. 2003: Michael’s 12 Stations of the Cross.
... It suits you very well that he's been keeping a low profile since his retirement, rather than hanging out on the Senior tour. Besides, you wouldn't mind sharing a quiet time with him, talking shop, waiting for the fish to bite on the river.
By Guillaume Willecoq