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August 31, 1993

Michael Chang


Q. Michael, yesterday Jimmy Connors held a press conference. He said that out of all the players that are playing today that he thought that you were the one in many ways that is filling his shoes; and that you try harder on every point than any other player in the game. I wondered if you feel the same way, in a way-- without self promotion here-- do you feel you try a little bit harder than the rest of the guys?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, I don't necessarily think so. It is kind of Jimmy to say that. Obviously, Jimmy has been known to, you know, always give it his best, regardless of what the situation is. I think that a lot-- in a lot of instances if a player knows that he is just not able to reach a certain ball, you know, for him it is more or less, why waste my energy to try to run for it. For me, I feel that the court is small enough so that I don't feel that there is a ball that is totally out of my reach, so then, therefore, I try to hit every ball. Because you never know when one point can really turn a match around, or really help you out in some of the situations. You may not see it at that particular time, but it could help you down the road.

Q. Is it also possible that a baseliner looks like he is trying harder than, let's say, a Stefan Edberg, who is coming to the net and putting away points a bit easier; is that another thing that may or may not contribute?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't think so. Not necessarily. I think it is pretty evident when some of the serve volleyers are out there -- are out there at the net trying to reach as many balls. When Boris Becker drives for a ball, for instance, you would not say he is not trying on that ball. By all means, I think that it is a little bit of a different movement at the net than at the baseline; therefore, I don't think you see as many steps.

Q. Why do you feel that the court is small enough? I mean, you are not a big guy; is it just your style of play or your anticipation and is that something that you found very young when you started playing the game; that the court was manageable for you?

MICHAEL CHANG: It is a little bit of anticipation. It is a little bit of, I guess, you know, speed, I would imagine. But I don't feel that guys are hitting so hard that they can really hit it where I can't really touch the ball. On the serve it may be a lot of different because it is a whole different reflex, not a lot of footwork involved. Getting to a ball that is served wide, five, six steps, you know, other than that, guys are hitting the ball hard. By no means are they hitting a ball that is 130 miles an hour off the ground because more or less guys are, you know, intelligent enough to know if they keep trying that, they are only going to make one out of 20.

Q. Is the lesson of, you know, how any ball could turn the match something that you think you picked up on very young or do you think just different players approach it differently?

MICHAEL CHANG: I could say that I picked that up probably when I was very young, because I have lost many matches leading quite a bit. I have lost -- there was one match in the juniors I was up 5-2 in both sets I ended up losing 7-6, 7-6. I have been in many situations, you know, on both sides. So I know that regardless of the situation, if I am down 6-0, 6-0, 5-0, 40-Love, there is still that hope of coming back. For me, I have to give myself that chance. Sometimes it doesn't end up the way you want it to, but every now and then, it does, and I think it is a good thing.

Q. What is that match, the 7-6, 7-6 match you were referring to?

MICHAEL CHANG: Ten and unders.

Q. Do you remember who it was against?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yes. Actually against Steffi Rehe's little brother, Mark, who is-- he is actually in Stanford right now. He is going through medical school.

Q. Was it a championship or what?

MICHAEL CHANG: It was a very big tournament. It was tournament called the Sectionals, played in Los Caballeros in Southern California, more or less the biggest tournament in Southern California for juniors.

Q. So that was kind of a turning point, a click, that-- what somebody said to you, look it, you could or it was in your own head?

MICHAEL CHANG: That was just one example. I wouldn't have time to go through all the matches that I have been up and I have lost them, because I have been up even in the pros as well. I have been up two sets to Love and I ended up losing before, too. So it works both ways. I really think in this day and age, kind of like the unexpected often happens. Yeah, I would say that, yeah.

Q. Michael is there somebody responsible for instilling that attitude of never not going after a ball?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think it comes from more or less stubbornness on our family, particular individuals. I am not going to mention them because I don't want to get into trouble. I think it is more or less not wanting to lose not wanting to give your opponent the satisfaction you know, that he says well, I beat Michael Chang; I have just about lost to everybody on the tour, but you know, still, nobody likes to lose, and for me, I especially don't like to lose without knowing that I gave it my best. That is the way I have been brought up and that is the way I have been called to play and that is the way I plan to play for the rest of my career. I hope that I never have a match situation where I am out there and I actually --

Q. What other professionals would you put into that category, work ethic on the tour the category of yourself, are there others that you also admire for that attitude?

MICHAEL CHANG: Obviously, Jimmy is the most obvious, I think. Boris Becker is a great example, especially in very tight situations, I think it is most evident in some of his Davis Cup matches where he knows that he is fighting for Germany; he is fighting for the team, and you know, he is able to bring out something special in kind of a desperate situation. Stefan, obviously, who has had a lot of good comebacks including last year in the semifinals against, what is his face -- there are a lot of people, I think, even on the women's tour, for instance, Gabriela, all the top players, you know --

Q. Was last year's semifinal thing, because you have been through tough matches and won some and not won some, was there any kind of breakthrough at all with that Edberg match for you?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, not really. I think it was more or less getting to the semifinals. I have played the U.S. Open for quite a few years now and I was kind of stuck in the round of 16 for so many years. I think -- I don't know how many times I have lost in the round of 16, but quite a few up until last year, so it was nice, I think, to kind of break that and to do better than that, you know, I think it gives me more confidence coming in to play this event; not having to worry about so much a particular round; when you have had success in the tournament, I think you always know that you reached there, a certain round you always strive to do better and better.

Q. Having grown up on the Southern California hardcourts, are you frustrated that you haven't had the success earlier than last year and this summer on the hardcourt?

MICHAEL CHANG: No. I don't think so. You know, I think that my game is starting to you know, get better and better, starting to mature more and more. I think my body physically is starting to mature. That is helping me out. I think that one thing people forget is that I am a little bit younger than a lot of the other guys. The guys who are at the top of the hill now with Courier and Sampras, I am a little bit younger than they are. So I give myself a little bit more time to mature and a little bit more time to let my game mature, and you know, by all means 21, I am in no rush. My main focus is really to concentrate in trying to improve other aspects of my game that can help me to become and all court player, not so that I can just play on a surface -- on a slow surface, but on faster surfaces, even like a U.S. Supreme or even on grass; with the game that is becoming more and more powerful it is kind of becoming a necessity to expand your game, and you know, it is a good challenge for me, and I think it is pretty good because it helps me work on things that I am not normally working on. I am going to get the most out of my talent out there.

Q. Do you see yourself playing this at 41 like Jimmy?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I am only 21 now, so you know, I don't know. It is tough to say. I know that I will be enjoying the Open for many years to come with playing or with watching TV or even on the sidelines. 41 it is not an old man, but on the tennis tour nowadays, it is a rarity, put it that way.

Q. Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts....

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