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March 16, 1996

Michael Chang


JOE LYNCH: Michael Chang has entered the final here. Michael has won five Mercedes Super 9 titles in his career including this tournament in 1992. He will take on Paul Haarhuis for the 6th time in his career tomorrow and leads that, head-to-head, 4 to 1. First question, please.

Q. Michael, when Rios was trying all those drop-shots and missing, what were you thinking?

MICHAEL CHANG: As long as he was missing, I was thinking it was okay.

I think that is just part of Marcelo's game. He is a very crafty player. I think in many ways, I don't know him very well, personally, but I think as far as tennis goes he is very spontaneous, so if he feels that, you know, he is in a position where he can get away with hitting a drop-shot, that is part of the way he plays. So to me, it is not really all that unexpected.

Q. What do you expect about tomorrow's final?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think tomorrow's final is going to be a very tough match tomorrow. Paul has been playing some great tennis this week. I think for him to be able to play as well as he has, he beat the players that he has, just shows you how well he is playing. And Paul and I, we have had a lot of tough matches and, you know, always a lot of long points and always a lot of tough points, so I think tomorrow won't be any different.

Q. How big a factor was experience today, Michael?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think it is a little bit difficult to say as far as experience, because Marcelo has been on the Tour for a few years, so, you know, it is not like he hasn't played against top players before, so I think in certain instances maybe he was -- he got a little bit tight on a few occasions. I think particularly on the set point he had, in that first set, it was, you know, he had a pretty good look at a short forehand and pretty much just hit it in the net, so, you know, I think that -- I don't think experience played all that much of a role, I don't think, all that much.

Q. He didn't make any mistakes, any inexperienced mistakes?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think Marcelo's game is the type of game where he goes for his shots. I mean, he plays patient tennis; takes the ball early and goes for his shots and on some occasions he will make some shots and on some occasions he will miss some shots, so, you know -- but obviously when you have the ball that you want, you got to go for it whether you miss it or you make it. But, you know, I think as far as his game today, I was able to hang in there and pretty much pull this match out.

Q. You played him before last year. How much did he improve?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think Marcelo is always improving. I think his ranking is good proof that he is continuing to do better in the bigger tournaments and I think before he was known pretty much just as playing well on clay, just pretty much a claycourter, but I think he showed a lot of people that he is much more than that. He won a title last year in Kuala Lumpur, I believe, and that was on a hard court against Philippoussis, so he is a very talented player, and he is capable of playing on all surfaces and his style allows him to do that.

Q. That was a very nice gesture of you when you said I did touch the ball, so you overruled the referee in a way. Would opponents do that for you or what is your attitude with that?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think it is different. That is different, if it is a call, for example - I mean, if it is a line call and I am not very sure about it, and I am just going to let it go, but, you know, under the circumstance, I knew I touched the ball, so, you know, I think it is a little bit different, and in the sense it is kind of like, in a way, it is kind of like cheating, in a sense if I would have just walked away and say well, it didn't touch my racket, so that was probably one of the reasons why the ball did go wide because I nicked the ball and pushed it a little bit wide, so I felt that that was something that was just part of the game and should have been his point.

Q. Overall, how did you feel you played today?

MICHAEL CHANG: I thought -- I played okay. I thought I played, you know, it was a tough match today. I did a lot of running today, and yesterday, and, you know, hopefully will be better prepared for tomorrow, and, you know, I think today was very much a grind, if I can put I it any other way, I mean, I was really grinding out that; grinding out a lot of shots and in many instances I think Marcelo was forced to go for it a little bit more and sometimes he missed.

Q. Don't you always do a lot of running, Michael?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, I try to do less and less as I get older and older. I try to just become more of an aggressive player so that, you know, if I am running, I want to make sure that my opponent is doing just as much running so it is nice to kind of be in the driver's seat and not have to, you know, play somebody who is constantly dictating the play.

Q. It is kind of a perfect week for you because you made it to the final and the top players had, 1, 2, 3, 4, they all went down in the quarters.

MICHAEL CHANG: No. I think that it goes with playing in a tough tournament. I mean, I think it is very rare to see, you know, in a big tournament like this, all of the top players getting to the quarterfinals because the depth of men's tennis is very great and, you know, on top of that, it is tough for the top players to be playing their absolute best tennis day-in/day-out, so I think it is inevitable that you are going to see upsets and, you know, this week is definitely full of them.

Q. Paul has played a number of sets this week in singles and doubles. Will that have any effect in a five set match tomorrow?

MICHAEL CHANG: I hope so. I hope so. But Paul is in great shape. I mean, he wouldn't be able to be winning, you know, as many tough singles matches and doubles matches if he wasn't fit. I think that today he showed that he was still pretty fresh, so I don't expect a tired Paul Haarhuis tomorrow.

Q. You have the chance to overcome Boris and become No. 4. Is that important for you or not?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I have been to No. 4 before, so I am striving to, you know, hopefully to win this title. This is a very important tournament, I think, for all the players, and, you know, I am not too concerned about the rankings at this point in time. Just continue to try to do well in the big tournaments and all the tournaments that I play and hopefully, you know, just inch my way back and, you know, I have been at No. 4 so we will work on 3 and so forth and hopefully, you know, by the time my career is over, I will have that No. 1 spot somewhere along the way.

Q. Anything in your game right now that you think separates from you the top 3?

MICHAEL CHANG: You know, to be honest with you, I don't feel like that that is a whole lot. A lot of these matches, believe it or not, are won on a few points here or there. It is incredibly crucial some of the matches that you have won and lost, you can look back and say "If I that point" or "if I that point" the match is mine, and, you know, I think that that is just very, very true. So I don't think that that is a whole lot separating the very top guys from guys ranked a little bit lower, so for me, I am just continuing to work at those things and hopefully those crucial points will come my way.

Q. Michael, it is probably the most cliched question we have, question about No. 1, but the others in your class Andre and Jim and Pete have been No. 1. What would it mean to you to achieve that after all these years?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think it is wonderful to be able to, you know, look back at your career and say that you were the best in your profession. I think that that is something that is very special and very unique. Because not everybody reaches that and I think it really does take a special individual in order to attain that. So, you know, for me I don't want to get too absorbed in the ranking because I think sometimes when you do that, you know, it takes away from your focus what you need to do on the tennis court, so I realize that because, I think, having first gotten a taste of what it was like to be in the top 10, you think, "wow, I am in top 10, I am in the top 10" and before you know it, you are adding a lot of pressure on yourself in order to perform. So I have learned a lot over the years and I don't think that being No. 1 or No. 2 should really change your perspective on how you treat matches in a way. You should treat them the same way as the way that took you to get that. So for me, just continue to strive and continue to improve.

JOE LYNCH: Thanks. We will see you back here tomorrow.

End of FastScripts........

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