Boris Becker blended his uncanny survival instincts with the diving volleys of his youth to win the Australian Open today, more than a decade after the first of his six Grand Slam titles.

Facing a gritty comeback charge by Michael Chang, Becker changed his shoes, his rackets, his shirts, changed the pace and style of his game, did everything he had to do to secure a 6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 victory.

Becker didn't race outside the stadium to bellow among the ghost gum trees in Flinders Park after winning, as he did when he captured the Australian championship the first time to become No. 1 in the rankings in 1991.

That was the last major title Becker won, though he came close by reaching the Wimbledon final later that year and again last July.

Becker's victory this time, at 28, proved to himself and the world that he's not too old to win Grand Slam events, that he can keep up rallies even with indefatigable younger players such as the 23-year-old Chang, and that there may be more of this to come.

"To tell the truth, I didn't think I had a Grand Slam left in me," Becker told the crowd.

"My days are counting," Becker said to Chang, "not yours."

Said Chang: "Boris is very much a champion, both on and off the court. Boris was just too good today."

Becker's path to this title was as hard as any he's ever had. After losing in the first round here in 1993, skipping '94, and losing in the first round again last year, Becker got off to a slow start.

He survived a five-setter in the first round, came back from two sets down to win another five-setter in the second round, and played close matches the rest of the way.

At the start against Chang, it looked for a while as if Becker finally would have an easy time. When they walked on court and posed for the photographers, the 5-foot-9 Chang stood on his toes to make it seem as if he wasn't so much shorter than the 6-3 Becker. Becker, not to be outdone, stood on his toes, too.

Becker asserted his size, power and quickness at the net right from the beginning, winning the first four games as Chang tried to figure out ways to beat him.

Becker didn't just dominate with ruthless strength, as he did when he became the youngest Wimbledon winner at 17 in 1987. He dueled on equal terms with Chang from the baseline, waited patiently for Chang to make mistakes, charged in when he had the chances, and jumped on Chang's second serve to force breaks.

Chang dropped his first service game on a double fault, but was under pressure the whole match as he struggled to save 18 of 23 break points.

Chang saved six break points in the second set before, at 4-4, Becker dashed across to put away a forehand volley on what had looked like a winning forehand crosscourt pass by Chang from short range. Becker served out the set at love.

But Chang, once again coming from behind, got to deuce on a forehand pass down the line and gained his first service break of the day on two double faults by Becker.

Becker wound up with seven double faults, Chang six, and they each served 11 aces. Notes: The third time's the charm for Mark Woodforde in the Australian Open -- half a charm, at least.

Woodforde and Larisa Neiland beat Luke Jensen and Nicole Arendt, 4-6, 7-5, 6-0, for the mixed doubles title.

Earlier in the Australian Open, Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge, the top-ranked men's doubles team, lost in the first round, a shock to the Australians.

Woodforde sharpened up his singles game and, in an equally surprising development, made it to the semifinals before losing to Becker.

He and Neiland picked up $66,000 for their victory.

"I'm pretty chuffed with myself," Woodforde said. "It's been just a great feeling." . . .

Chang has legions of fans across Asia, but none more devoted than his great-grandmother, who still lives in Canton, China.

When Chang faced Becker today, "She might be watching, it may be on Star TV," Chang said.

Is tennis skill hereditary? Chang was asked what her backhand is like.

"I don't know. Her footwork is pretty good," at age 94 or 95, Chang said. "At this particular time, she's able to get around quite a bit on her own." CAPTION: Fourth-seeded Boris Becker, 28, wins his sixth Grand Slam, 6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2, over Michael Chang.