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September 5, 1995

Michael Chang


Q. Michael, did you just consciously one day sit down and think, gosh, I need a real weapon, I need to be bigger; how am I going to do, I am going to improve my serve, I am going to get a longer racket, and approach it that way, or did it just happen, just sort of evolve?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think it was actually initially Carl's idea that we needed a few things that we wanted to take care of and Carl is always trying to get me to hold the grip a little bit lower, to get a little bit more whip, a little bit more power on my groundstrokes and at that time I just wasn't strong enough to do it. I start just kind of flinging the ball and that wasn't what he wanted. On top of that, making the racket longer would also help me on my backhand side being that I can have both my hands on the grip completely, and not have to worry that top part of my hand was on the throat of the racket. On top of that, we just found a lot of other benefits to use the racket and I think definitely a bigger serve gave me a little bit more reach on my volleys and has given me a little bit more power off the ground as well. I would never change to a racket that I didn't feel comfortable with or that, you know, wouldn't help me to play better tennis because that doesn't make sense to do that. So, I think a racket is such a crucial part of a player's equipment.

Q. How many long rackets have you tested before the one you are using today?

MICHAEL CHANG: Quite a few. I am not going to tell you how many.

Q. 10? 100?

MICHAEL CHANG: Not 100. I'd say more probably -- it depends, I think maybe somewhere between - around 15, I would say, something like that. I mean, I was fiddling around with -- you can't just make a racket longer and expect it to do whatever you want it to do the first time you tried it. So, you have to kind of get it down to where I can hit the shots that I need to hit. Geting in situations in tiebreakers, and stuff, you don't have too -- well, what is this racket going to do, so, yeah.

Q. Is yours customized?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, yeah, naturally.

Q. It is made only for you, the one you are using?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, yeah -- yeah.

Q. Anything special about it?

MICHAEL CHANG: It has got my name on it.

Q. So that obviously gives it the right tork and all that?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I mean, it has to be custom because, you know, otherwise I just, you know, I wouldn't use it. So I think that, you know, it just has to be that way. I think for all the players, for all the players, they get it to exactly where they want it to be.

Q. For those of us who aren't into the ultimate fine points of professionalism like you are, is there anything about your racket that is slightly different from any other long racket? What are you looking for in it; weight, width, length, as far as the fine subtle points of the manufacturer?

MICHAEL CHANG: As far as like other companies; is that what you mean?

Q. What makes it custom; what is it about it that you -- Characteristics, as opposed to off the shelf?

MICHAEL CHANG: Off the shelf, there is not much of a difference. I would say off the shelf maybe it is a little bit more flexible, but other than that, there is not much difference at all. Talking like retail? Not much difference at all.

Q. How much has your game elevated by the use of this new racket, I mean, if you looked at tapes of yourself today, how different are you a player today as a result of using this new racket?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think that for me, it definitely helped me to get a heck of a lot more free points on my serve. That, for one thing. I think of all the things, that is probably the biggest difference. I am able to come out and serve a few more aces; serve a few more service winners, and that in turn has helped me to just hold - serve a heck of a lot easier. It is not quite as hard to win my own serve. I think under those circumstances, obviously, it is going to make you that much more difficult to beat.

Q. The racket technology kind of brings up the counterpoint that I know they have slowed these courts down a little bit in recent years or at least they said they've tried to. I have been told that that kind of makes this the toughest court physically to play on because it gives you the longer points, but it is also physically more demanding than clay, you can't slide. Are these the hardest courts to play on, physically?

MICHAEL CHANG: Do they beat you up more than others? Hard, (BANGING ON DESK), meaning surfacewise?

Q. Are they physically just hard on you; worse than clay?

MICHAEL CHANG: Worse than clay, I don't think so. I don't feel that. I haven't heard any other players say that at all. I don't think it is particularly on the slow side, at least not the Center Court. I think maybe some of the other outside courts maybe are just a little bit -- like some of the outside courts maybe slower, some a little quicker, but stadium court, I would definitely say is medium/fast.

Q. Is it slower than it used to be?

MICHAEL CHANG: I would say a little quicker actually. I think it is a little quicker than last year, but not by much.

Q. We have been talking about your new racket. Earlier this week, you talked about having this racket since the beginning of 1994. So when -- how long from 1994 'til now did it take to you get this racket so you could use it and is this a new racket for this tournament?

MICHAEL CHANG: I have been using this particular racket since the beginning of 1994. All the other things that we have been doing to try to find things to experiment with the racket; fiddle around with the weight distribution and whether the racket was head light, head heavy, all things like that were all prior to 1994.

Q. Why are we just noticing it now? Are we just slow?

MICHAEL CHANG: No. For one thing, I kept things very quiet about the racket. And I wanted to make sure that this was a racket that I wanted to play with; that -- I think that some players have, you know, pick up a new racket, felt it was great for a couple of weeks, and I would never want to come out and say "well, this racket is great" and then one week later not play so good, and toss it out. For me, I think that would be kind of misleading in a sense. I don't think that would be very fair to the Prince people and to the public in general, so, I wanted to make sure that this was a racket that I definitely felt comfortable with and that I wanted to use. Other than that, -- yeah.

Q. When did you start seeing results with using it?

MICHAEL CHANG: I won my first tournament in '94, so, hopefully, that is a good start.

Q. How much longer is it?


Q. You are the guy that has gotten everything you can out of your talent. You worked out. You

take --

MICHAEL CHANG: I am hoping I can still get more.

Q. When you won that tournament, was there a moment of eureka, "I found it," the thing that is the missing piece that is going to put me on the same level as Sampras and Agassi and break me through on that echelon of players?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think that -- it is kind of a difficult question because I know that the racket itself is a great racket, but I think that for me, I definitely still have to work on a lot of other things that maybe don't have to do with tennis; work on becoming - work on becoming fitter, stronger, all these things play into the game of tennis. I think that a part of it also has to do with what you don't see, maybe the maturity level; maybe just growing and knowing how to handle certain situations. You know, just knowing a lot of those things that maybe have nothing to do with hitting a forehand or hitting a backhand because I don't think you can just take a Sampras and an Agassi and say well, they are going to be No. 1 no matter what, because they need a lot of - they need a lot of nurturing. They need a lot of help in their minds, you know, to get those things ready to be able to deal with the talents that they have. So, I would look at it that way, but I think that for me, tenniswise, got a few things -- things are heading in the right direction.

Q. Do you start getting nervous at this point, there have been stories that the road to this tournament is through you and you have lost to the champion the last four years and now, you are in the quarters, things things are -- you are looking at Courier or Muster, I think in the next round. Do you think about that? Do you think about how this tournament has had gone in recent past and that you had to do something now?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think the past is the past. I think those tournaments, last few years that I -- I think they were still good tournaments for me. A couple of matches were a little bit unfortunate. But the past is the past and I kind of like looking to future things and trying to be very positive about it. I don't feel any -- I don't feel particularly nervous; actually I haven't since -- I haven't at all the last couple of weeks, so for me, I feel like I am playing with a lot of -- a lot of God's peace out there and going out and playing my tennis and just going out and trying my best and definitely knowing that winning or losing is in his hands, and, you know, that is a very easy way for me to approach things. That is the way that I am going to continue to do so.

Q. Considering the tough time you had with Muster at the French Open, would it be a little bit sweeter for you to go out and play him on Thursday, is there a little bit of revenge factor working in? Are you looking forward to the matchup?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think that for me I don't look at it as so of as a revenge factor. I am just eager to come out and play whether it is Thomas Muster or Jim Courier or whether it is anybody else. Just eager to go out and play, so that is the way I look at it. I think that each match he plays is a new match and that is the way I am going to take it. I have actually played both Jim and Thomas quite a few times this year. I played Thomas three times this year; twice on clay, once on hard court and I played Jim four times this year, so yeah, so I am just eager to play.

Q. Would you describe each one of them separately and the challenge, the different challenges each one would pose for you?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think both are definite -- they kind of play similar in the sense that they are both -- they both like to run around their forehands; they both like to smack the ball hard. They both like to grind it out. And they are both great competitors, great fighters, and I think it is going to be a very, very tough match. I think that you would think that Courier would have a little bit more of an edge on hardcourts being that he is a little bit more familiar with the surface and Thomas hasn't played quite as many hard court events as clay, but, you know, then again, who's to say that the guy playing a clay court event prior to the U.S. Open to already get to the round of 16 pretty comfortably, so, it is -- I think regardless of who I play, I know there are going to be a lot of -- a lot of long points. I know it is going to be a very tough match physically and mentally, and definitely, for me, I have to come out and play aggressive tennis and be consistent at the same time.

Q. You signed a poster that is going to be presented to Cal Ripkin Jr. tonight. What do you make of the record that he is going to tie tonight and break tomorrow and have you followed that streak?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think it is great. I think that actually there have been a few people talking about some of the other records, actually for tennis, with Stefan Edberg having played like 50 consecutive Grand Slam titles -- Grand Slams. So I think that that, you know, I think that is great. I think it is great for athletes and it gives people something to strive for that, you know, a guy like that cannot just says, well, I don't feel so good today or this hurts and you just kind of throw in the towel and give up. I think it is great for kids to see that kind of attitude, that kind of fighting it out; toughing it out. You wake up, you don't feel so good; you say, well, I am going to do it anyways, so I think it is -- I think it is great.

Q. A lot has been made of the Agassi/Sampras rivalry. Can you talk about some of the other rivalries on Tour that you think are good; whether it is with yourself or with some other players, ones that you actually look forward to watching yourself?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think that -- I think Agassi and Sampras right now are probably the most visible. I think there are a lot of other rivalries that maybe people don't quite take as much notice. I think whenever the four Americans go up against each other, I think that creates a pretty unique rivalry. I think that our records are kind of, you know, everybody has got someone that they don't do quite as well against. Jim does well against Andre. Pete and Andre are pretty close. I am really close with Jim Courier. I have lost quite a few times to Andre and I have done pretty well against Pete, so I think it goes back and forth. And on top of that, there have been a lot of great rivalries over the past few years, Becker and Edberg, for example, so I think that there are a lot of rivalries that maybe you just don't quite see it as much. But I think when it comes to Americans playing against Americans, there is always a rivalry; maybe nobody else knows it except those two players, but they know it in their heart.

Q. Michael, can you also talk how well you have played this year and whether you feel you have lifted your game to the point where you can breakthrough this year?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think, for me, it is not so much of a concern to worry about breaking through or anything like that. Because I think my mentality shouldn't change. It -- should just take things match by match and just work it from there. And, you know, I think that it is kind of like, well, in order to eat the whole pie you got to eat it piece by piece. You can't just shove it in your mouth, so, you know, I think it has been a good year. I definitely wanted to definitely -- my goal this year was to do better in the Grand Slam events and that, I think, that I have accomplished that and hopefully, you know, this week will definitely end on a good note and, you know, so I figure that continue to work hard and hopefully those opportunities will come around and hopefully we will capitalize on those and, you know, we will see what the Lord has planned for me.

Q. You have already won a Grand Slam. Do you think it is unfair for us to ask whether you need a breakthrough?

MICHAEL CHANG: No. It is just like you take a guy like Pete, for example, he -- Picture this: He just comes off Wimbledon. He feels great about winning his third consecutive Wimbledon and the press say, well, what about the fourth, you know. It is the same thing. I think it is just the way that people are. It is just a certain mentality always questioning if you can do more, if you can do better, if you can achieve better, greater success, and I think it is very -- I think the world is like that because -- very success conscious, in a sense, so for me, I don't really worry about it all that much, and I think -- my highest priority is not to come out and to try to win every single title, but touch peoples' lives and that, to me, is much more lasting than winning the Grand Slam titles and stuff. That is, I think, eventually people forget about those. But when you touch peoples' lives, those last for a lifetime. And not to say I don't want to win a Grand Slam title, I try to work hard and if they come along, great, so, you know, but you definitely give yourself that opportunity to do so - just go out and give your best.

Q. What do you mean by "touching people's lives?" I mean, by entertaining them on the tennis court?

MICHAEL CHANG: No I don't mean by entertaining them. I mean, by attitude. For me, it is important to definitely have a very Christ-like attitude; to me Christianity is my No. 1 priority and I feel that for me, in my life, I have just received a lot of love and a lot of peace and a lot of blessing in my heart -- in my life, and I just feel that the world nowadays, there's just a lot of negative things going on and kind of get people down. Always looking at the negative things; look at the news and murder here, murder there, earth quick here, earthquake there, wars and stuff kind of get depressing. Want people to start focusing on the positive things in life and hopefully one day you will be able to find that Love that the Lord is so willing to give.

End of FastScripts...

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