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March 9, 2003

Michael Chang


MODERATOR: Questions for Michael.

Q. A couple months into this farewell tour, any regrets you've made this announcement?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, no. It's been good. I've had a couple of tough first rounds - playing Andre first round in San Jose, Paradorn in Memphis. I have no easy opponent this week, as well. It's definitely been a lot of fun. I think to play against Andre in San Jose, we had a packed house on Tuesday. The crowd was great. It was electrifying. We played a great match actually, had a lot of great points. It definitely was a lot of fun.

Q. Is that the kind of stuff you'll miss?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah. I think any professional player will miss those times, those moments. I mentioned that earlier in the year, that it would be great to be able to play Andre and Pete at least one more time through the year. I got a chance to play Andre. Hopefully get a chance to play him again. Pete, you know, your guess is as good as mine. Maybe I'll give him a call, we'll go play someplace in Bel Aire. But it's been good. At times it's been a little bit emotional, but it will probably get a little more so as the year progresses.

Q. The first-round losses, does it make it almost easier, your decision?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, not necessarily. I think regardless of how I do this year, my decision is pretty set. I may go out and end up, you know, doing very well. The rest of the year, I don't know. I think after the US Open is done for this year, it will be a little bit bittersweet, obviously, but I'll feel good about my decision and definitely walk away from the tour without having regrets. One of my goals this year is to definitely go out and to be relaxed, to go out and enjoy myself, have fun, but still go out and prepare. I've been training hard, preparing the best way I know how. Yeah, obviously I'd love to be able to finish on a high note. I think first thing, I'll go out there and play tennis the way I've known to play it. I'll go out to enjoy myself, have fun, enjoy the time to be out there. Obviously, winning is always an added bonus.

Q. There's so many young kids on the tour. In your class, there's only a couple left on the tour. Do they even realize what you've done on the tour, who you are? The older players, how are they treating you?

MICHAEL CHANG: You know, in all honesty, I've always gotten a lot of respect from all the players really. I think that's something I've always felt really good about. When I first came out on tour, it was great to have some of the guys that were on tour for a while to come up and introduce themselves. As a youngster on tour, you always appreciate that, you always remember that. Obviously, my own generation has been something that has been very, very special to be a part of. I think maybe some of the newer kids, maybe it's been a little different. But the generation after our generation, I think definitely there was a lot of respect there and stuff.

Q. But personally, do they come up to you or do you go up to them?

MICHAEL CHANG: It works a little bit both ways. Definitely works a little bit both ways. Yeah, I can sense a little bit when I'm hitting with some of the guys or when I'm in the locker room. I think it's always important for an athlete to be able to feel like they're respected by their fellow, you know, professionals. That's always a good feeling ,because obviously they're the ones that, you know, are there with you kind of in a day-in, day-out basis on tour. They know what you're like on the court, a little bit off the court, during practices and stuff. You know, I think that says a lot.

Q. Do you remember playing Peter Herman when you were 12 years old at Morley Field, you beat him 6-2 in the third?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't remember playing him in Morley Field, but I do remember playing him in a men's open in San Diego. We played off-site. It was a men's open tournament. I know that I beat him in three sets. I think it was like the second round. I do remember that. Peter was definitely one of the better players in San Diego. I do remember that.

Q. The '60s and '70s, the Aussies dominated tennis, your group dominated into this millennium. Can you see another group of players from our country dominate like your group did or the Aussies before that?

MICHAEL CHANG: In all honesty, I can't really say that I can see that happening. I think there are a few factors working against that. I think, for one, the depth of men's tennis is much greater now. You're definitely having to work a lot harder to win matches. The guys are definitely stronger, they're hitting the ball harder. I think, generally speaking, if you're having an off day, more times than not, even if you're a top-ranked player, you're going to end up at the short end of the stick at the end of the day. I think also at the same time the tour is very demanding. You're playing pretty much January through November. The guys are playing more and more tournaments, injuries are becoming more and more of an issue I think with the players. All those things are going to factor in. You have some guys who have reached No. 1 and have had a few injuries and stuff, have dropped down a little bit. I think it will be hard to maintain that elite status at the top for an extended period of time. I don't see anyone, you know, dominating tennis like Pete did, for example, finishing I think six years at No. 1. I just don't see that happening. I could be wrong, but I think it would be much more difficult in the years to come, to see that happening.

Q. Do you feel you're leaving the men's game at a time when it is approaching turmoil? I understand there's a splinter group that's challenging the ATP. What do you think of that?

MICHAEL CHANG: That I have not heard.

Q. Wayne Ferreira, they're trying to form a new union.

MICHAEL CHANG: Wayne is? I've not heard anything about that. That's the first I've heard about that. I feel like I'm leaving the tour not necessarily in a time of turmoil, but I do feel like I'm leaving the tour in a time of transition, a time of change. Definitely the older guys are shifting out, the newer guys are kind of coming in. I think tennis on the men's side is going through that period of stage right now. I know a lot of people are coming up to me saying they're not quite familiar with some of these players. It's going to take a little bit of time. It's going to take a little bit of time for them to get to know Lleyton Hewitt, Marat Safin. It just takes time. Hopefully the men's game will continue to flourish and will continue to be successful. As far as the other thing, I really haven't heard anything about it. This is the first I've heard about it.

Q. Do you come back here with a love/hate relationship? You've done well here, but at the same time it kind of started the end.

MICHAEL CHANG: It's kind of funny you say that, because I very seldom pull out of tournaments. I very, very seldom pull out of tournaments. This is one of the tournaments that I've won the most in my career. It is the tournament that I've pulled out the most. I was two-time defending champion coming in in '98, then I had my knee injury. Then I also was supposed to play in 1990, but wasn't able to play because of my hip, my hip injury from '89. I've never pulled out of any tournament more than I have here. So it is hard to sometimes come here. I definitely think about the times I've won. It's still hard to not to think about the day I practiced with Andrei, with Medvedev. You know, it's a little bit hard. But when it comes down to it, I love playing here, I love playing in Southern California. I've had some of my best success here in Southern California. You know, conditions suit me. I appreciate also that Charlie really goes out of his way for the players. He actually gave me a wildcard to play in the quallies when I was 15 years old as an amateur. A lot of people don't know that. I actually won two rounds, almost qualified to play here as an amateur, as a 15-year-old. Those things you don't forget. Obviously, it's great to be able to play here as a wildcard and to be able to play one more year here. Definitely a little bit of mixed thoughts. I think in that situation in '98, if I had known there was any possibility, slight chance of me getting hurt out on that court, I would have stopped immediately. Something like that, sometimes it just happens.

Q. You were born in Hoboken, New Jersey.


Q. Did tennis have anything to do with your family moving to San Diego County?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah. I started in Minnesota. My dad was looking for a better opportunity for Carl and I to be able to hone our tennis skills. Minnesota was fine. But in the wintertime, it gets a little bit cold. I mean, we could play indoors and stuff. I think my dad was -- my parents were looking for a place we could play year-round. My dad was able to find a job there at Kelco in San Diego. For us as kids, it was great because we could do so many things outdoors and still grow up fishing, do a lot of great fishing there in San Diego. It worked out quite well.

Q. What do you hope your legacy will be?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't know if it's necessarily for me to decide. You know, I think if I can walk away from the tour knowing that I've touched lives along the way through tennis, whether it's on the court, whether it's off the court, then I feel like my career has been a success. I feel like that is something that has been important to me. Hopefully I've made an impact on people's lives in that way.

Q. Can you talk about Taylor Dent, his aggressive serve and volley style, his prospects?

MICHAEL CHANG: I've known Taylor for quite a while. I've known him since he was a little guy, believe it or not, because I used to work with Phil. I knew he already, growing up, had a great slice backhand. He obviously copied that from his dad. I never would have guessed that he would develop in the way that he has. I think he's really matured as a person. His game has really come together. Obviously, he's known mostly for his big serve and his great volleys. But, you know, he plays a little bit of a different style than what the guys are used to, a lot of touch, a lot of slice. He can whack his forehand pretty good. But definitely a guy who is starting to make his mark, starting to feel like he belongs on tour.

Q. I didn't realize you knew him as a kid. Any funny anecdotes about when he was young, the way he acted on the court?

MICHAEL CHANG: Taylor was a pretty happy-go-lucky kid. I can't say I know him totally well. The times I worked out with Phil, he was hanging around, always looking for opportunities to hit some balls and stuff, just basically a good kid. Even to this day, still very much the same personality, very easygoing, very easy to talk to. Taylor and I, we hit on quite a few occasions. When I'm in town at my parents' place. It's great to see him develop, do well. Hopefully he'll continue to play well. I know he had a tough one a couple days ago. He's definitely headed in the right direction. It's good to see.

Q. Can you talk about your appreciation of being a part of this group of Americans, and has it sunk in, everything you have accomplished together?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think -- I don't think we were probably able to appreciate all of that until probably the last few years. I think growing up obviously it was just kind of like, "It's just Andre, Pete, Jim, Todd, MaliVai." It was kind of the guys playing on tour, growing up playing junior tournaments. I don't think any of us thought about coming out and actually playing on the ATP Tour and being as successful as we've been. When we got on tour, I think we were encouraging each other. Pete and I would work out often together, train together and stuff. Andre started to have some success, then I started to have some success. I think we fed off of each other in aspects of gaining confidence, seeing that other guys could win tournaments, other guys could win Grand Slams. "If he can do it, I grew up playing with him, I've beaten him, he's beaten me, why can't I do that?" I think it's backhand kind of a chain reaction. I think we've really pushed each other to excel as tennis players. I think when we come out and play against each other, I think we bring out the best in each other. I know at least on my side there's always an added adrenaline that when I go and play against Pete, Andre or Jim that I can't get when I go out and play against somebody else. For some strange, odd reason, particularly if we play in the States. That's always very, very special. I think now as we approach the last few years of our careers and stuff, I think we've come to appreciate it's been fun to be able to play against each other for so many years and to have the rivalries that we've had. I've always said if Pete or Andre had retired a couple years ago, I probably would have already been retired because I would feel like something on tour was missing knowing that those guys aren't there anymore.

Q. How much longer do you think Andre is going to be going?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't know. He's full steam ahead. With Andre, you know, I don't think anyone's really been able to figure him out within his career. All I can say is that the last few years have been tremendous. Hats off. It's great to really see him fulfill his potential and to see him excel in the way that he has. You know, for Andre, hopefully he'll continue to play as long as he feels the passion. When Andre has a passion for something, he does very well at it. When the passion is not there, when his determination is not there, then, you know, you can see it in his game. So he has that now, and hopefully for his sake and for tennis' sake, he'll continue to play for a few more years.

Q. Could you talk about the book you wrote?

MICHAEL CHANG: Finished last June. Been doing a lot of different promotional stuff for it, doing some speaking engagements in conjunction with the book. It's really kind -- it's been kind of a reflection of my career, growing up in my family, the importance of faith in my life. I feel like it was an opportunity for me to be able to share a little bit more than what people know. We tried to make it easy for people to read, a lot of short stories, a lot of short stories about places on tour and places that my mom and I have experienced together. So far from what people have told me, most people go through it pretty fast (snapping fingers), say they've enjoyed it, it's been a blessing in their lives. That's what our purpose has been to try to write the book.

Q. When will it be sold?

MICHAEL CHANG: Actually, you can buy it just about anywhere now. I'm actually going to do a book signing tomorrow after the celebration.

End of FastScripts….

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