August 7, 2002
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How did today go with trying to turn the tide an when did the tide break? You got rolling after winning the tiebreak.
MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah. I think that the end of the second set was pretty crucial. I got off to a good start and in the third and I really just tried to keep the pressure on him. I think that he's probably a little bit discouraged after losing the second set and the third set went pretty quick.
Q. First time for back-to-back matches in a while.
MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah.
Q. Big milestone?
MICHAEL CHANG: It is. It feels a little bit different, to be honest with you, because it has been awhile. Actually it has been a long while. I don't know if I won a couple of matches in a row last year, so it's a milestone for me. It's definitely a good step in the right direction, and yeah, it feels good, particularly in a big event like this.
Q. How often do you get that kind of crowd roaring kind of thing going through -- is it still pretty common?
MICHAEL CHANG: I think it depends on really where I go. Obviously if we played this match in Spain it would probably be the other way around. But I feel like the places that I have gone where I have really been there for quite a number of years I think the people have gotten a chance to see me play over the year and they have gotten a chance to know me, and I think they know that I have been struggling a little bit. So it is great to be able to have them encourage me and support me and try to urge me on to play better tennis and to come out and to win matches. So I think for any player it's great to be able to have the crowd behind you. It gives you a little bit extra adrenaline, and most of the time you come out and you play better tennis than, say, if the crowd was pretty neutral.
Q. This crowd in Cincy has always been pretty strong for you?
MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, they have. I am not sure necessarily -- well, Cincy has been great stop for me. It really has. I have played a lot of tough matches, some I have won; some I have lost. And yeah, I mean, I really enjoy the people here. They really bring a great atmosphere to the matches and even in the town itself, going around different places and everyone knows what is going on in the tournament and definitely welcome you with open arms.
Q. Does this mean anything that you probably feel like you can win beat any player on a given day but to put two tough matches back-to-back days, you recover well and then you win a tough three-setter, does that add something to your confidence maybe you got from yesterday?
MICHAEL CHANG: Definitely. I am really not going to take things, you know, much farther than really just the next match. Tomorrow is another day and once again I am going to try to come out and play the tennis that I have been playing these last couple of days, and yeah, hopefully have the same result, same thing I told you yesterday. So yeah, --
Q. I am reading John McEnroe's book. He says he loved competing and he loved winning but he didn't love playing tennis. Can you at all relate to that? Find it odd?
MICHAEL CHANG: Well, --
Q. He didn't like to practice either.
MICHAEL CHANG: Maybe the practice part from John's ---
Q. He was talking, in general, playing tennis.
MICHAEL CHANG: No, not really. I can't really say that I can really relate to that. I mean, I don't think anyone likes to be out there losing every match. That's not fun. Sure, I think the winning is fun but the process in getting there is also fun. To a certain extent I think it is important who you have pushing along, you know, being creative in the way that you work out, and for me, I love the sport of tennis. I love getting out there and playing, whether it's at this level, this caliber, or even if it's just bumping the ball around with friends back home. I enjoy tennis in all different aspects, so I can't really say that I can really relate to what John is saying.
Q. As you say it's not fun losing, but obviously you have been experiencing that some the last couple of years. How do you handle that then to keep going?
MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I look at it as obviously I am trying to learn from my matches, and each time I come out I am trying to do something a little bit different. I realize that each day is a new day to try something different. As long as -- like I said, as long as the desire is there to work hard and the desire is there to compete, I am going to keep plugging away and keep trying different things in what I can do to get myself back in that winning circle. That's what I have tried to do. It hasn't been an easy road by any means, but the side -- off to the side it's really taught me a lot about perseverance, for sure, and you know like I mentioned to you before, I don't want to walk away from the Tour saying I should have tried that or I should have tried that. I want to be able to walk away from the Tour having no regrets and feeling good about all the years that I have spent on Tour. I feel like everything from here on out is really icing on the cake but I feel like at the same time God blessed me with a lot more than I have dreamed, much less be able to go out and play on the Tour for so many years. I don't think any of my family ever thought that we would be out here for this long and much less playing tournaments like this.
Q. Not so much your career individually, but there was a prediction five, six years ago that servers were going to take over the sport. It's kind of come back a little bit in the other direction. Besides yourself, baseliners are succeeding very well. You have always done very well with that style. In general have you noticed or any thoughts on why that is?
MICHAEL CHANG: I think tennis really kind of goes in cycles; don't you think? You have the eras where you have the McEnroe-- think McEnroe era was a little bit of both with McEnroe, Borg and Connors and Lendl. Then you have Edberg/Becker era where Boris had the big serve and Stefan had the great hands. Then you had Pete, Andre, and it's been a little bit kind of back and forth back and forth. I think Lleyton is kind of a little bit of an exception in many ways because I mean, he's probably close to -- he's 5-11 -- he's not overly big, but yet he plays a style that you would think in this day and age of tennis would not survive. So obviously he shows you that he's not only able to play against the best in the world, but he's able to beat them.
Q. Have you noticed -- I mean, there has been talk that some of the courts have been slowed down maybe especially indoors, tinkered with the ball a little bit. Do you think the gods of the game have tried to slow down a little bit over time?
MICHAEL CHANG: I think in certain aspects I think certain tournaments, certain aspects maybe it is good, but then again certain terms -- like this year at Wimbledon, I think that the courts and stuff, they were much slower. They didn't skid as much. The ball bounced a lot higher than normal and I really think that it did give the baseliner much better look at passes, at returns, and I think that's why you saw what you saw this year. First thing I saw when I walked on Wimbledon grounds, I am saying the courts are looking a little bit drier than normal and, you know, you are hitting balls and they are not skidding like they normally do, and from then on out, we knew that it was very possible to play well from the back and do very well. Pretty evident this year in the way that the draw turned out.
Q. Pete has been going through kind of a rough patch. You guys kind of grew up together. Have you guys chatted at all about having the perseverance to kind of get through that?
MICHAEL CHANG: No. I think that -- I think we are all a little bit different. I would say that we probably have gone through a period of time where when we first came out on Tour I think that the American boys were pretty close and then there was a period of time where we realized that we are competing against each other for a lot of the titles and all of a sudden we started to drift a little bit and I think now we are realizing we are in the twilight of our career and we are really rooting for each other to do well and to win matches and to get to the latter stages of tournaments. I think that, yeah, for sure, so it's gone through its own little cycle. Yeah, it's good, we realize we are in the twilight of our career and everyone wants to finish in the best way that they can.
Q. Are you a little surprised Jim is the only one of the four of you that's gone and has been gone for quite a bit now?
MICHAEL CHANG: Kind of yes, kind of no. I think with Jim's personality, he worked really hard and I think maybe in some aspects I think he overworked. Jim was really just a workhorse. I think that if you wanted to, he could have played a few more years and done very, very well. I think maybe Jim got to the point where he just wanted to move on to other things. Jim is a very talented person. He has got his music and now he's playing on a celebrity golf Tour, playing pretty well, so I think for him he felt like he could probably have done it. But maybe he didn't enjoy it as much as he had in the years that he was playing. And he said, well, maybe sometime to move on to some other things and it's just something that you have to respect about him. But you know, all and all, you look at his career he's accomplished a lot and a very successful one at that.
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