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March 15, 1996

Michael Chang


JOE LYNCH: Michael Chang is into the semifinals and will play Marcelo Rios for the second time in their careers tomorrow. And David, why don't you take the first question.

Q. Were you surprised how you dominated the second and third sets?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think Andre was a little bit of a let-down after the first set. From there I was just -- I had that early break and pretty much, I didn't want that to slip away, so I was just trying to concentrate and, you know, trying to play better tennis as the match went on, and, you know, I think that I was able to pretty much just stay with him and keep him off balance and he never really regained anything, so, you know, things went well for me from there on out.

Q. With Rios you played him last year in San Jose, what do you remember about that match?

MICHAEL CHANG: I know Marcelo is a very, very talented player. He is very solid off the ground. He has had, you know, a very, very good year over the last year or so. Playing some really good tennis. And, you know, he likes to take the ball early, so you are going to see a lot of baseline, you know, rallies and you know lot of tough points tomorrow.

Q. How similar do you think this match was to the one that you and Andre played in Melbourne?

MICHAEL CHANG: A little bit different. I think Andre, although he had a tough match yesterday, but two out of three sets you figure that the weather has been pretty cool shouldn't really play that much of a factor. We didn't have any wind this particular match, so, you know, I think that each time we play some things are little bit different. I mean, even in San Jose, you know, it was a tough match then as well, and, yeah, I don't think you can really compare. Every match is different.

Q. How confident are you about your chances to go ahead and take this whole thing here?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think that obviously getting past today is a good step for me. It is a good confidence booster, and I am just pretty much going to take things match by match, you know, Marcelo is a good player and not one to be taken lightly, so I have to definitely come out and play very good tennis tomorrow.

Q. Michael 9 of the top 10 entered the tournament only two have made the last 4. Any thoughts on why that might be?

MICHAEL CHANG: It is a tough tournament. That is it-- pretty much it. I think 9 of the top 10 and I think if you were to take the whole draw, this tournament has had tough fields for as long as I could remember, and the thing about it is that, you know, in a sense it is kind of a miniature Grand Slam in many ways except you don't have 128 players, so you know, it is one of those things where, you know, right off the bat, you are playing good solid players, and if you are not ready or if you are a little bit off that day, you know, guys aren't going to let you get away with that.

Q. How well were you serving tonight?

MICHAEL CHANG: I started off -- didn't serve that well in the beginning, the first set and-a-half, really. I really only started to pick things up from the latter part of the second, you know, 'til the match finished. I was able to get a good few games in there where I got a lot of aces and a lot of service winners, and that helped me to close that set out and start off on a good note, but I think overall my percentage has got to be pretty low. So it's got to be better, so...

Q. Have you ever had six aces in a game before?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, but six aces and you are still struggling to win the game, so, you know, I think that you don't want to have to hit aces to stay in a game. You want to hit aces to close out games. Obviously, the minute I hit my first four aces and then, you know, then I don't have to worry about the other two. It is one of those just one of those things.

Q. Three unforced errors in the third set. Was it pretty much perfect that third set?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, I don't think so. I can play better tennis than that. I think although things went well for me, you know, I still feel like I can play better tennis than that. I mean, I was serving was better and things were coming along, but -- yeah.

Q. Michael, after Andre beat you in San Jose he had a very iffy final against Pete where he lost his concentration, then he lost to the first round. Now tonight sort of spotty performance. In some ways, do you sense that he is going through a tough stretch now, or is this the same Andre Agassi you knew before or do you sense a slump?

MICHAEL CHANG: You know, that is something you just have to ask Andre himself.

Q. He is not here.

MICHAEL CHANG: He didn't come for press? I am not Andre, so, you know, I think --

Q. You were out there with him.

MICHAEL CHANG: It is one of those things where Andre is so unique in his way that I honestly feel that nobody can really say things for him. You know, if he wants to say something or if he feels a particular way, he will pretty much say it. But I am not close enough to Andre to tell you what is going through his mind or if he is incredibly happy right now or if he is incredibly sad or going through a difficult period.

Q. I am not asking that. But you have known him for years; you have been on-court three times in the past couple of months with him. As an opponent, do you sense that this is the same Andre with the same focus, and intensity and shot variety, shot arsenal or is this a different player you are playing?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, Andre can always -- he always seems to have his arsenal there, to be honest with you. It is just a matter of, you know, of how he is able to use it. I mean, even tonight, I mean, he hit some incredible shots tonight. But on top of that, he hit some shots that weren't so good, so, you know, it depends. I mean, he is one of those types of players where, you know, he is not going to play defensive tennis and make you hit, you know, try to hit winners off. He is the one that is going to be going for winners and on days that he is playing well, he is going to make a lot of shots and days he is not playing well, he is going to miss some and some days he is going to be in between. So, you know, it is difficult to say. But , you know, Andre is Andre. I mean, that is all I can say.

Q. How much of a stepping stone is this sort of a after win for you in securing a place among the top three of the rankings having beaten Agassi at the Australian and over here as well and in the big tournaments?

MICHAEL CHANG: I am really not too concerned now with the rankings. I am really concerned with trying to do well, you know, here and also at the Lipton because I haven't done well in these two tournaments for the past couple of years and they are really big tournaments and important tournaments, and, you know, I think that if I am able to focus on my game and know my priorities and have the right attitude and know what I need to concentrate on, then the ranking and all those other things will fall into place for me. But first things first is that, you know, I got to stay focused.

Q. Is there a time in tonight's match where you thought you took over mentally? It seemed like you were gaining confidence and Andre was getting frustrated.

MICHAEL CHANG: He was very frustrated on one particular changeover. I don't know if you guys caught it on the little microphone or not. If not, it wasn't a good microphone (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER). He was very frustrated after that particular one. I think I broke him for the first game in the third, so, you know, I think from there things started to definitely, you know, turn my way. I knew that Andre was very frustrated and I needed to play. I needed to up my level of tennis because, you know, under those circumstances, with some guys, it feels then to play better. I think McEnroe was a great example of that and I didn't know how Andre would really take things so I was just really concerned with what I was trying to concentrate on and concentrate on my game and not worry about him.

Q. What did he say?

MICHAEL CHANG: Do you have the transcript for that? (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER). He was just upset about the call, so -- yeah.

Q. Michael, apart from the intensity you would have playing a player ranked No. 3 in the world, what else exists what other layers are there when you play Andre?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think there is, you know, besides -- I think besides a personality difference, I think there is a style difference. I think that there is just -- Andre and I are just very different people. I think that in many ways there is always going to be that rivalry because it has existed through the juniors and even 'til this day and I am sure as our careers go on, will continue to be that way. Regardless if I beat him from here on out every single time or he beats me from here on out every single time, there is always going to be that rivalry and that is the case with all the American players; particularly, you know, Pete, Andre, Jim and I. So with Andre, you know, I think that in some ways, you know, you want to be able to really come out and for me, personally, just really play some great tennis against him. Andre has been kind of-- had the edge over the last, you know, I don't know how many years, but it is nice to be able to finally come through a match like this and kind of like, more or less, kind of let your tennis do the talking.

Q. Last year many of us in the media were just saying, hey, it is Pete and Andre; that is the story, and it lasted for so much of the year. Everyone else were spear carriers. Do you see that breaking down pretty soon? Do you think that there will be a different configuration at the very top of the game?

MICHAEL CHANG: It is funny because, you know, for a while people were talking Pete and Andre and all of a sudden the last two tournaments, you know, they didn't get to the finals; they didn't play each other, and it has kind of flip-flopped the other way. But I just think part of it is that part of it is that, you know, guys are improving. I mean, it is tough. It is really tough to be able to come out and to win every single week. It is just -- it is just not possible to do that through a calendar year. You can't expect that they will be there in the finals. There are a lot of hungry guys out there trying to do well and trying to beat them, if they get in the way, and, you know, that is -- it is just one of those things. Yeah, it is just one of those things. But I think particularly for the guys who are ranked a little bit lower, like myself, who haven't tasted what it is like to be the best in the world or to win another Grand Slam tournament, you know, there is that hunger to do better and to strive for more.

Q. You really crunched that service game that gave you the set point in the first set. Is that a shot that you might not have hit a year or two ago or is that an example of how you are playing more aggressively?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think a few years ago I still would have hit it. I might not have made it. I might not have hit it as hard, but I still would have hit it. It was there and it was there for me and I just went for it. I mean, it was -- yeah. It was a shot that I liked, so, you know, when you like shots, you know, if you pick your shots, you got to go for them.

Q. How much time do you did you think about it before hitting?

MICHAEL CHANG: You don't. It is instinct. It is one of those things is that that is my ball and you hit it. Sometimes you miss it and sometimes you make it. So -- yeah.

Q. Since the beginning of the year people just talk about the No. 1, but at the big events like Frankfurt, Australia and here you are the one stepping in. Is there a personal satisfaction in that or what?

MICHAEL CHANG: Hopefully it will be able to come through. I think there are a lot of guys -- I have always said that there are a lot of guys who are capable. I mean, Goran is playing some great tennis. Just a lot of guys. I don't think you can discount anybody, any of the top 10 guys on a particular week, you know, some guys maybe aren't going to play so well, but you can almost be sure that come next tournament, you know, they are up and ready to go. They don't -- none of those top players like losing early. You know, if they didn't mind losing early they wouldn't be where they are. It is just one those things that comes with wanting to be the best and part of being a champion.

Q. Any other players on the Tour that have the relentlessness and attitude to never give up on a point as you?

MICHAEL CHANG: A lot of players. A lot of players. I would say a lot of players. Okay.

JOE LYNCH: Thank you.

End of FastScripts.....

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