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March 20, 2003

Michael Chang


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. So Michael Chang, the "Ace King," huh?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, I served really well today. I don't know exactly how many aces I had, but I served really well. I think that, you know, if I wasn't serving aces, didn't seem like he was getting a whole lot of returns back. That just made it so much easier for me. Nicolas looked like he was struggling a little bit on particular balls out there. Was just a good match for me. I mean, feels nice to be able to, you know, to win a match like this. Every match that I win from here on out is great, feels great. So, you know, good start for me. Obviously, to play Andre in the second round is an added incentive to come out and try to play well.

Q. Can you sum up just how enjoyable that was, to win that game with this tournament, with these fans and your last appearance in Miami?

MICHAEL CHANG: You know, I've had kind of mixed results here. My results have either been I've done really well or I haven't done very well. There hasn't been a whole lot in between. Obviously, in the last few years, it's been a little tough. Nicolas is not an easy player to play against. We've had some tough matches in the past. This crowd here, obviously, they're pretty vocal and you heard some things tonight where they'll let you know how they feel in certain aspects. I kind of like that in certain ways. It brings a great atmosphere to the matches. I think it makes it a lot of fun. You know, definitely gets you up for playing these matches, particularly when you go out and play on center.

Q. Anything particular that you heard out there tonight?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, a few things.

Q. Regarding you or...?

MICHAEL CHANG: Couple things . Well, I think I heard a lot of encouragement today. I've heard a lot of encouraging things over the last few days since I've been here, which has been great. I know a lot of people are giving me a lot of encouraging words and giving me a lot of support and stuff. A lot of them say they hate to see that they hear I'm going to retire and stuff. It makes you feel, I don't know, it's kind of hard to describe a little bit. But deep down inside, it makes you feel good that people really , you know, they love to see you come out and play and they care about you not just as a tennis player, but as a person. In some aspects, I walk around and some of the things I hear from people, I never noticed that people take that much notice to a certain degree. In certain aspects, you're a little bit in awe of it. So it feels good.

Q. So, would it surprise you a little bit that people appreciate you -- do you think people appreciate you more than you thought they did?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think in certain places, I mean, certain places I can't miss it. If I'm in Asia, for example, I can't miss it. I mean, here, sometimes I wonder to a certain extent because there are so many great tennis players here. The people, they just love tennis - period. All the best players in the world come here to play, and, you know, it's just a nice feeling. It's a nice feeling.

Q. It's the first match you won this year. You were really playing well out there. What do you think made it click today?

MICHAEL CHANG: I'm not really totally sure, but I've had three really tough first-round matches. San Jose I played Andre, played Paradorn in Memphis, played Carlos last week in Indian Wells. So this week, you know, I just tried to simplify things a little bit. I had some people tell me that, you know, "You just try to think a little bit too much and try to make things a little too complicated out there, just try to simplify things." Today, I didn't miss a whole lot of balls and didn't make a whole lot of errors and it worked out well.

Q. Are you feeling like you're rushing toward the finish line at the Open, or that everything is in slow motion?

MICHAEL CHANG: Depends if I'm winning or losing (smiling). No, I feel good. I feel good about my decision to finish out at the Open. You know, I feel like I'm just playing the tournaments that have meant a lot to me over the years and tournaments that I really loved to play, really enjoyed playing. This is definitely one of them. No, I'm just enjoying my time that I have. It's my opportunity to not just play these tournaments one last time, but an opportunity also to say thank you - to say thank you to, you know, the tournament directors, the people that were involved, the staff, obviously the fans in each particular place, and to say thank you for allowing me to be able to do something that I've enjoyed for so many years and to be able to have so much fun, you know, with them on the court and, you know, cheering for the matches and stuff. Yeah, I mean, that's one of the reasons why I chose to do it this way instead of saying, "Okay, I'm done. Thank you very much, that's it." I felt like that was just a little bit too -- it's not my style. I felt like for me, I felt it was a little bit cold. I wanted to be able to come out and say thank you and say I really appreciate their time and their hard work and their effort and their support, their encouragement.

Q. What are your goals from here to the US Open?

MICHAEL CHANG: I'm just going to take it match by match. I think that sometimes, you know, past few years I've had some goals and I think sometimes the goals that I've had, maybe I've put a little bit too much pressure on myself to go on to perform. I'm just going to enjoy myself and, you know, be able to go out and train the best way I know how and play the best tennis that I can play and be able to, you know, have fun out there. I want to be able to walk away from the tour without any regrets, obviously, without any bitterness in any way. But I want to be able to walk away from the tour with a smile on my face knowing that the past 16 years was definitely a blessing in my life and a great time in my life and something that I'll remember for the rest of my life.

Q. You are going to Roland Garros, the French Open?


Q. Do you think anything particular about that tournament?

MICHAEL CHANG: Lots of things, lots of things. I think each opportunity I get a chance to play in Paris is very, very special. Obviously, with the '89 French, it makes things more special, particularly at Roland Garros. I think my relationship with the French people there has gone through a cycle. Now I'm at the point where I love going there, I'm greeted with a great deal of warmth, and I think in many aspects, you know, sometimes they treat me as if I'm French in certain aspects. I get along very well with the people that are involved in the tournament. Yeah, it's a great place to play tennis. I feel very, very comfortable and very much at home there.

Q. Are you a fisherman? They gave you a deep-sea trip?

MICHAEL CHANG: Little bit. I've been fishing longer than I've been playing tennis.

Q. What kind of fishing?

MICHAEL CHANG: I do a whole variety of fishing. When I'm home, I do a lot of smallmouth bass fishing in Lake Washington, do some salmon fishing. Done a little bit of everything. We've gone fishing out here, caught some mahi-mahi, some wahoo, a lot of snapper, some schnook, tarpon, sailfish. Hooked into a permit, didn't bring him in. But we've had a lot of fun here.

Q. Are you going to fish on this trip?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't know, I don't know on this particular trip. The water's looking a little bit rough and I do get sick when the water gets a little bit too rough. I wouldn't want to waste that opportunity on a day that's a little bit windy. But definitely a lot of fun things to do here.

Q. What are you going to do after tennis? Will you be involved with tennis still?

MICHAEL CHANG: I'll still be involved in tennis, for sure. They say tennis is a sport for a lifetime. It's very, very true. I'd love to be able to do some things with some young Asian talent, hopefully be able to have a few more camps and stuff that we've had and be able to encourage them and help them in their game and get them going on the right track. We have a lot of things to do with our Chang Family Foundation, so we put a lot of different local and international programs and events, you know, most of it to go in to spread the gospel. We've had a couple of basketball leagues, we have a volleyball league going on right now in Seattle. So definitely a lot of things to keep me busy and, you know, definitely going to do some things to promote my book as well. Haven't got a chance to get that established over in Asia yet, but when that happens, you know, go do some book signings and stuff. Definitely going to be very, very busy.

Q. I don't know if you've been asked yet about playing Andre in the next round?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, not yet. Not yet. I'm excited.

Q. You already played him this year.

MICHAEL CHANG: I said before the year started that I would love to be able to play Andre and Pete at least one more time. You know, this is the second time that I get a chance to play Andre. You know, Andre and I, we go back a long, long ways since junior days, you know, since when I was 10 years old, I think he was 12 years old. We have a lot of history. You know, there's always I think a particular -- there's always an added electricity, always an added adrenaline whenever we play, particularly in The States. I think whenever the four Americans play against each other, Andre, Pete, myself and Courier, you know, when he was playing and stuff. Just makes it a lot of fun. I never have to worry about getting up for a match like that. I have to worry sometimes about getting too pumped up. But it will be fun. Andre's had some great success here. I'm looking forward to it.

Q. Still a tough match for you, even though Andre is coming back from injury?

MICHAEL CHANG: Absolutely, absolutely. It's never an easy match, never an easy match for me. You know, hopefully never an easy match for him. But definitely a match to look forward to, a match to be excited about.

Q. What do you remember from when you were 10 and he was 12? What do you remember about him?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think the first time I played against Andre was actually in the 12-and-under nationals. He actually stayed at my house. He stayed at my house and, you know, we were looking at the draw together and he says, "Oh, I'm going to play David Kass," or somebody "in the quarters." I said, "The quarters? You got to play me in the third round first." So we go back a long ways. Andre played a lot of the southern California tournaments. He didn't get a whole lot of competition in Las Vegas, so he would come over to play the southern California tournaments. We had a very strong section. My brother was a part of that group; Pete Sampras, growing up in southern Cal, you know; Jeff Tarango. So we had -- the depth that we had was pretty strong. So he got a lot of great competition. So we'd see Andre quite often.

Q. How did that match come out?

MICHAEL CHANG: He won. He won.

Q. Do you remember the score?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think he won like 3 and 5, something like that. But I don't think I ever beat Andre in the Juniors. I think the first time I beat him was when we were professional. But I never had beaten him as a junior.

Q. Are you surprised, knowing him for so many years, that he is where he is at your same age?

MICHAEL CHANG: Andre's actually two years older than I am. I think that between the four of us, I think Andre's had the most up and downs. He's been the most up and down career-wise. He's had a lot of highs, definitely a lot of lows, not a whole lot in between. But it's great to be able to see him, you know, excel in his game and, you know, put everything together, particularly in the last few years, and really make the most out of the talent that he's been given, really realize his potential. And to see him do so well is great to see.

Q. Excuse me if this question's already been asked. What do you think about the young Americans coming up, the young guns?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, they're definitely headed in the right direction. I think it's great to be able to see them do so well, particularly the last six months to a year. You know, guys like, obviously, Roddick and James Blake and Taylor now is doing very, very well, Mardy Fish, you know. So it's good to see. It's good to see. These guys are starting to get the idea of what it's like to win. They know how to win now. Hopefully, it's just a matter of time for them to be able to get that one big breakthrough where it will really propel them into the Top 10 and be able to stay there and really be in Grand Slam contention.

Q. Sort of cycle of tennis, cycle of life kind of way, does it help you go out, seeing these guys come up?

MICHAEL CHANG: Not necessarily. Not necessarily. I think all players would love to be able to go out on their own terms. I think it's always nice to be able to know that there's a generation following you that has great potential. I think that it was the same when we first came on tour and they were talking about how John Mac and Jimmy Connors, they knew that they were going to retire in the next few years and then this generation came up to kind of take the flag from there. So it was good.

Q. So it is sort of comforting, in some way?

MICHAEL CHANG: As far as for American tennis, for sure. For sure. To know that there's some talent there and, you know, over time, we'll see how far they can go. But they're definitely headed in the right direction, and at this point looking good.

Q. What do you think about some foreigners like Srichaphan, Nalbandian, Fernando Gonzalez?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think it's all kind of coming in the same wave. Paradorn has been playing very, very well over the last year - very, very talented. Fernando is the same way. He had a great run in the summer last year, particularly in Cincinnati. These are just the next generation of players that are going to be vying for tournaments like this, in Grand Slam tournaments, and it's going to be fun to see them compete and develop rivalries like tennis should have.

End of FastScripts….

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