September 2, 1998
FLUSHING MEADOWS, NEW YORK
Q. Can you win this tournament?
MICHAEL CHANG: Sure, why not.
Q. Why and why not?
MICHAEL CHANG: Because I am still left in the draw and yeah, I am still left in the draw. I feel like I have as good a shot as anybody out there and I have gotten close to in the past, so, why not have the attitude that I can come out and play great tennis and maybe even win this tournament.
Q. You know what it takes physically to win a Slam, do you think -- where would you say your body is at right now compared to previous opens?
MICHAEL CHANG: I think it is a little bit difficult to say, to be honest with you. I am feeling pretty good. My injuries and stuff are heading in the right direction. I think -- certain aspects, maybe some of the injuries throughout the year have kind of helped me back as far as being able to work as hard as I would have liked, but at the same time I feel like my attitude and my perspective is pretty good and pretty positive and I think part of doing well in big events like this is having good mental attitude and being fresh mentally. And for me having not played as much as maybe some of the other guys, at this point in time I am feeling pretty fresh. I feel pretty relaxed. Last week I had a good week in Boston, I'd love to be able to carry that on for seven tough matches here.
Q. Will you be in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 25th?
MICHAEL CHANG: As far as the Davis Cup, probably not. I feel like -- I told Gully at the beginning of the year, my major concern was getting back to where I'd like to be. Actually at that point when I talked to Gully, I wasn't dealing with any injuries. So the injuries have crept on up, kind have come in clumps over the year and I feel like I think Gully would pretty much understand where I am come from.
Q. What if he said to you Pete Sampras isn't playing, Courier is hurt, I need -- Agassi can't be here. You have got to play for your country, what would you say then?
MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think in certain aspects you always bring into consideration the circumstances. I think that circumstances as far as who is available to play, who is the best team and, you know, who is healthy, I think everyone obviously has their reasons for not playing. Jim is not playing here obviously because he is hurt. Andre was a little bit upset because of the scheduling and stuff. I know he has a pretty -- he is pretty dedicated to his charity down there in Nevada. I am not sure what Pete's reasoning is. But that is something that, you know, I would always take into consideration. But just looking at the situation now, it is just probably, for me probably it is not in my best interest to play at this time, just to be able to go out and make good use of the time, to get back to being 100% healthy.
Q. What is your schedule before and after that Davis Cup week?
MICHAEL CHANG: I have nothing scheduled before. I have basically three weeks off. I am playing Shanghai and Singapore. Then I have a week off, and then Paris, and Stuttgart and that is about it. I'd love to be able to make it to the ATP Finals, and that's something that we will have to wait and see when the time comes.
Q. Is there a different sense being in this tournament as an unseeded player?
MICHAEL CHANG: Maybe to a certain extent, you know, in certain ways, no. I feel like regardless of whether you are seeded or not, you still have to win seven tough matches in order to win the event. I think there was a little bit of curiosity as to where I would fall, not being seeded. But at this point in time ranking is not something that I am too concerned with and I am pretty -- actually, I am pretty happy, to be honest with you, even playing this Open. That is where my attitude is, and taking a positive perspective toward it, trying to work hard and trying to come out and play the best tennis that I can play, and obviously I'd love to be able to win this event, and if it is the Lord's will for me to win it, then it will happen. But taking things step-by-step and taking things little-by-little.
Q. Last year you had as good a chance to go all the way here or any Slam. It was devastating for Carl, as I remember, when you lost. Looking back from here, how tough a loss has it been for you - had it been for you?
MICHAEL CHANG: Well --
Q. What kind of impact did it have on you?
MICHAEL CHANG: I think it was -- I think, to be honest with you, I think maybe after Pete had lost, I definitely felt the pressure to be able to win this event. I knew I had a great opportunity. I had some tough matches there in the round of 16 in the quarters and Pat was just too good there on the semifinal day. I think, in certain aspects, I could look back through the past few years, you know, looking at missed opportunities and stuff like that, but one thing I have learned is not to dwell on missed chances or missed opportunities or times where you have failed. What is important is to be able to pick yourself back up and try again. I feel like I have had great opportunities to win my second Grand Slam title, and just so happens that I wasn't able to get over that final hurdle and win that final match. Like I said before, I believe that there is a reason for everything and at this point in time I am just being patient and I feel like my time will come.
Q. A couple of years ago Andre lost to Pete in the final here. A lot of people thought that really knocked -- including Pete, knocked Andre off course. It took him a long time to recover. Was that the same for you, did it knock you off --
MICHAEL CHANG: No, you didn't think so. I think everyone handles things differently. Just for some reason after I played the semifinal did you have a Davis Cup against Australia my results for the rest of the year just went "kaput", don't ask me how to spell that. I just didn't win a match hardly for the rest of the year and I don't know whether it had to do with just being a little bit exhausted or tired or what, and I didn't feel discouraged or down. I think you feel a certain amount of disappointment having come close, but during the off-season and stuff I worked incredibly hard. I think through the beginning of this year it was quite frustrating knowing how hard I worked during the off-season expecting to have an unbelievable year this year. And just things, you know -- things that happened in my tennis and in my life that were just things I couldn't control. That was frustrating, but I feel like I have grown a lot during that period of time and been able to have a better perspective toward things, better attitude and I think in the long run it is going to help me.
Q. What are the injuries you had this year --
MICHAEL CHANG: How long do we have?
Q. Is this your worst year for injuries?
MICHAEL CHANG: Absolutely. I have had two major injuries. I have had some smaller injuries. I strained a stomach muscle just prior to the Australian Open, actually I had to pull out of an event which I was scheduled to play. I had a bruise into the -- at the end of the tournament in Memphis and then in Indian Wells I was practicing with Andrei Medvedev and the sprinklers came out on the part of the clay court next to where we were practicing and I slipped on some of the mist that was coming over and that was a freak accident. I tore about 25% of my MCL and that took a little bit of time to get back. My wrist injury actually resulted from my knee injury because I wasn't able to hit my backhand the right way and I ended up over compensating with my wrist, so I have had tendinitis since. All and all, I can look back at my career and honestly say that I am pretty thankful that throughout my career I have been pretty injury-free with the exception of the hip fracture in 1989. So they have come in one chest, but I feel like I am doing pretty good. I am here at the US Open. I am in the second round. We will keep it going.
Q. With as few matches as you have played over the last, say, six months, what kind of confidence will you bring to the court against an opponent such as Moya if you face him, which is pretty possible?
MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I feel like, you know, last week in Boston, obviously helped quite a bit. It was nice to be able to finally win a tournament. It has been awhile and that does good things for your confidence. I feel like my capability and stuff as far as beating the best players really hasn't changed. I just haven't been able to play as much as I would have liked throughout the year. But I think that I feel like I am heading in the right direction. There is no reason why I am not able to go out and upset the best players in the world.
Q. Michael, a while ago you switched to a longer racket and went to a bigger serve. But someone said that that cost you in terms of your percentage and that it was a mistake to go for a bigger serve. Could you comment on that? Are you happy with that move and how has it changed your game?
MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, honestly I am very happy with moving to the long body. I have been playing since the beginning of 1994, and I think that my percentage has dropped maybe a little bit more because I am going for my serve a little bit and trying to get aces and free-point service winners here and there. But if you can recall maybe like in 1988, 89 my first serve was more like a second serve. So in certain aspects if I am getting 90% of my serves in, it was still just like getting a good 85 mile-per-hour second serve in. So I feel like the benefits of the racket definitely outweigh the other aspects. But percentage-wise that is something that Carl and I have realized quite a bit and something that we have tried to concentrate on a little bit more over the past couple years. Now that we are able to add the power, we work on the accuracy and consistency to go with that.
Q. You have said you worked extremely hard the off-season before this year. Do anything radically differently in terms of your preparation than you had in years past or how would you describe it?
MICHAEL CHANG: I did a lot of strength work. A lot of strength work.
Q. Free weights? That kind of stuff?
MICHAEL CHANG: A lot of flexibility work, a lot of -- I did a lot of everything.
Q. Was it different than you had done in the past?
MICHAEL CHANG: I think it was a little bit different. It was. I did work on the strength aspect, I think, a little bit more so than in the past. I felt like I had about six weeks off so for me not to take advantage of that and try to get stronger, I felt like it was a good opportunity to do that. But unfortunately the injuries kind of came after that. But I think that the two major injuries that I have had, you know, were more out of freak accident than anything else. You just don't foresee slipping on a court like that. Throughout my career, I have only had minor injuries really to deal with and normally over a period of few days I have been able to take care of that whether it was through ice, ultrasound, and stuff like that, didn't have to worry about it.
Q. Has the 25% tear healed in your knee?
MICHAEL CHANG: My knee feels good right now. I am definitely able to move about, whichever way. I don't have any problems with it. I have lost a little bit of flexibility in that. But the doctors say that with any kind of torn ligament it is not uncommon for the injury to be 100% healed after 16 months.
Q. Nothing about surgery?
MICHAEL CHANG: They said at that point in time, 25% they said didn't need to be. I think if it was more -- if it was -- if I had torn it more, I would have had to have surgery.
Q. When you see sprinkler systems going off now, what do you do?
MICHAEL CHANG: I say -- well, I will tell you, if I go back to that same court next year and I see that sprinkler go off, I am going to be pretty upset. Because I just -- you just don't like to see that happen to anybody. I think that, yeah, you just don't like to see that happen to anybody. Yeah. I mean, I did play actually in the rain in Hamburg because it is on clay you can do, that, but then again Hamburg it is -- you are always playing in the rain.
Q. Nice day for Hamburg.
MICHAEL CHANG: They have got the retractable roof now. But unfortunately I was placed on an outside court.
Q. How do you feel after the match today?
MICHAEL CHANG: I feel pretty good after my match today. I felt like he was a bit nervous today. I think this is his first US Open and for me it is nice to get the first match under the belt. Yeah, I mean, it was nice, kind enough for the USTA to give me a Wednesday start. I just finished in Boston on Sunday, and to be able to get here couple of days and it has been a good first round.
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