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August 12, 1999

Michael Chang


ATP: Questions for Michael.

Q. Are you surprised how maybe easily things went or how smoothly it went today?

MICHAEL CHANG: Actually, I didn't feel like it went that smoothly. Cedric was hot and cold today. I didn't really know what to expect from point to point. I think actually probably the key points in the match is probably the first two games and the last two games. Other than that, I think Cedric had quite a few unforced errors. But he also hit some unbelievable shots today. It was tough to figure out what was actually going to happen. Just tried to stay tough out there, tried to make the most of my opportunities. I felt like I still needed to be aggressive. Cedric is the type of player where once he starts getting into a rhythm, if you give him any kind of sitting ball, he's going to knock it away for a winner. I knew for me it was important to definitely keep my errors down, but also keep him off balance as well.

Q. How were you feeling about the way your matches are stringing together? Are you feeling a rhythm in terms of beating really good players and playing pretty well?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, it feels great. I haven't felt like this for quite awhile. It's been awhile since I've been able to string together some matches. I think when you're finally able to do it, it feels good. This tournament has been a great tournament for me. To be able to string some good matches here against tough players, definitely a lot of confidence.

Q. Can you talk about playing Pat?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think Pat had an unbelievable summer last year. He almost virtually won everything. I know he's playing some good tennis, particularly since Rome this year, all the way through the French and Wimbledon and Davis Cup. He's playing some good tennis, he's playing some tough tennis. I'm looking forward to it. We haven't played for quite some time. We have had some pretty tough matches. It will be nice. I'm looking forward to it.

Q. What are the keys when you play against him? His surface, in the summer, in his element. What are the keys for you playing him?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think it's going to be important for me to play solid all-around tennis. I know, definitely, I have to be able to play well in all areas. That's going to be important. It's going to be important to return serve very well. If I'm able to do that and take advantage of my opportunities that are given to me, it's going to definitely help me out.

Q. Can you compare, like when you first started playing him, you're a Top 5 player, he's trying to find himself, to now? Is he a different player to you or do you harken back to how he was when he first started playing?

MICHAEL CHANG: It's kind of odd because actually the first time I played him, I lost to him. I think definitely over the years, obviously he's improved quite a bit. I haven't played him since the Davis Cup semifinal two years ago, so it's been awhile. So for this period of time where he's had this stretch of great runs, reaching No. 1, I haven't really gotten a taste of that Pat Rafter. You know, I've been watching him quite a bit, obviously. I think everybody has. He's improved tremendously in a lot of different areas.

Q. Do you feel like you'll be playing him for the first time?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, I don't think so. You know, I know his game pretty well. I think he knows my game pretty well. I don't think there's going to be any total surprises or anything. It's not like he's going to serve and stay back, I'm going to serve-and-volley and chip-and-charge. That would be interesting, wouldn't it (laughter)? I know it's going to be a tough match. Nobody has any easy matches here. That's just the bottom line.

Q. At the end of the day, if in fact it turns out to be the top seven seeds and you, do you feel like that's about right, that you should be in that group, you're kind of back where you would like to be?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, you know, we'll take things step-by-step, little by little. I feel like for me, I don't want to be able to come out and say "I'm back," stuff like that. Like I said earlier in the week, there were times where I felt I was on my way back in particular matches, and it just didn't hold true. I'm just going to worry about, you know, on the court and concentrate on each point, allow things to happen the way that God planned. Really just take things in that kind of attitude, that kind of light. I think it probably suits me best.

Q. Does that look good to you, though, seeing the top seven guys in there, and you?

MICHAEL CHANG: Absolutely.

Q. You don't feel any different this time than the others; you don't feel like something has clicked that didn't click on those previous occasions?

MICHAEL CHANG: I can tell some things have gotten better. That's been very encouraging. I can feel some things a little bit mentally have been better. I mentioned attitude. That's something that has been very, very important. Perspective has been very, very important, particularly over the past few weeks. It's something that has helped me tremendously. I think that that is something that is very, very important. I also have a lot of people praying for me, which always helps. I'm excited to be on the court. It's nice to be able to do it here in Cincy, where I've had some good success.

Q. You always seem to be able to rationalize everything, pretty calm exterior. What pisses you off? Is there something that angers you?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, definitely. I think we all have times where we just absolutely lose it. I probably get the most upset probably either with my dad or on the golf course, believe it or not. I don't know, the golf course, for some reason I have this mentality where, okay, it's one of those things where it's just me. If I'm playing a tennis match, I can say, "The guy hit a great shot." I'm not going to blame the clubs and things like that. The ball just doesn't move. I know if I chunk it or something like that, I know it's my fault, so I get pretty upset. I've been getting better, but I've had some times where I get pretty upset. Other than that, I think I'm pretty calm. I'm not a person that loses my temper very often. Yeah, I really don't lose my temper that often. But, you know, there are times, obviously on the practice court, where it's very, very frustrating. Yeah, we all have times.

Q. So are you a yeller or pouter? How does it manifest itself?

MICHAEL CHANG: Mostly I think yelling. I think mostly yelling. I think probably I deal -- maybe I'm a little bit calmer on the outside than inside. I'm a person that internalizes everything, you know. I don't know if you guys know that. For some reason, for me, I'm able -- if something really bothers me, I deal with it inside first. I'm not a person -- some people just have to let it out.

Q. Right.

MICHAEL CHANG: I deal with it inside first, try to think and analyze the whole situation, why did something happen, and look at it in that way.

Q. Have you thrown your clubs?

MICHAEL CHANG: I have once.

Q. What did you do?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think I missed a putt. I missed a putt. I think it was one of those crucial putts. It was like on a par 3. I get really excited.

Q. Did you throw it or --?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think we'll leave that out (laughter).

Q. I don't know how much earlier in the week you talked about this, but how tough was it dealing with the events of the last year? If you're not somebody who just lets it out, how bad was that eating you up inside?

MICHAEL CHANG: At times it was very, very difficult. I can't explain to you how difficult it is in words. Yeah, I mean, it was very, very tough. I think one of the things is because I didn't understand, you know, why things were happening the way that they did. Injuries kind of came out from nowhere. The knee was a freak accident. Then this year, I started off the year injury-free, with the frame of mind, "We're injury-free. Last year we had the excuse of injuries. This year I didn't have any injuries." I didn't understand everything. I think, to be quite honest with you, I think that's where faith comes into play. I think it's really true. I've learned to kind of stop complaining a little bit. That just doesn't do you any good. For a little while, maybe it helps you to deal with something, but after a while, you know, it just doesn't do you any good. It just eats at you inside and works at you from the inside out. Just kind of tears at you.

Q. You started playing a couple Challengers?


Q. How tough was that on the ego, to go from as high as you were, to playing with guys who are just getting started, probably were amazed to be on the same court you were on?

MICHAEL CHANG: Actually, I get along pretty well with all the guys, regardless of where they are ranking-wise. I knew quite a few of the players there in the Challenger. Obviously I think for me it took away a lot of pride. You are humbled quite a bit in that kind of situation. But I think humility is good. When you're humble, you learn a lot, you listen a little bit more. It can in many aspects -- you know, you're able to accomplish a lot more when you're humble than when you have pride.

Q. Is that a strategy you kind of came up with because you know Andre had done it a couple years ago? Do you think you would have thought about it if that hadn't happened?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, actually I didn't really think about it until I realized that the grass court season, I wasn't going to be able to play. It just so happened that Altos was there on the west coast, it was convenient, it worked out. If there wasn't a Challenger there on the west coast, I wouldn't have played. I know that Tom had mentioned to me there was another Challenger the week after in Ohio, and I didn't want to go there because I didn't want to travel to the east coast. Schedule-wise, it worked out well.

Q. Have you ever gone to Andre to talk to him about coming back from where he was or has he come to you and said anything to you about climbing back?

MICHAEL CHANG: No. No, we've never really talked, not in any depth and stuff. We practiced one time in Rome. He beat me pretty bad in Rome. He could see that I was really frustrated, going through some tough times. "Yeah, I've been there myself. I know how you feel."

End of FastScripts….

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