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August 6, 2002

Michael Chang


MICHAEL CHANG: This is probably some of the best tennis I have played in a very long, long time. I didn't realize Tommy has been playing some good tennis coming off a semifinal showing last week and today I really didn't have anything to lose and went out there and went for my shots and yeah, most of them went in and hit a lot of great shots today.

Q. He seemed to sense that it was your day. He said even when you were hitting balls on the frame they were still catching the line. Did that happen a lot?

MICHAEL CHANG: It happened a few times. I felt like I would go for a shot and maybe just didn't quite hit it right and looked to see where the ball was going, and we were going pretty much pretty close to the corners and the lines. So I don't know whether it was a little bit tricky out there with the wind, but all and all, no complaints here.

Q. Been a long time where things have been going the way you wanted?

MICHAEL CHANG: It's been quite sometime. I think particularly a Top-10 player, you know, I think that yeah, probably couldn't even remember the last Top-10 player I have beaten, so it feels good to get a win like this, and hopefully be able to go out tomorrow and play the same kind of tennis with the same kind of intensity and hopefully the same kind of result.

Q. A bit of organized cheering out there. That must have been nice.

MICHAEL CHANG: We are in Cincinnati. Laughs) I get some great support here. I think a few people that I think were maybe a little bit more vocal were from this area and they are part of the message board actually on my web site. They have been posting some things like we are going to come out and watch Michael play. Regardless, it's always great to be able to get the crowd behind you, and get support. Get an encouragement, particularly when things haven't gone quite as well as you would like, and, you know, it spurs you on to play better tennis, and yeah, today was good evidence of that.

Q. Regardless of who you beat today was there a point early on where you could feel as much in a zone as I have been in a while, something like that?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, I really didn't want to think too much about it. I realize that Tommy Haas definitely has the capability of coming back and winning matches. So I just wanted to kind of just continue to concentrate on what I was doing out there and continue to try and play the way that I have been playing throughout the match. That was pretty much my focus.

Q. Compared to yesterday the temperatures and the conditions were probably as good as they can get in August for here?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, for sure. I am not quite sure why the temperature dropped. I think everyone is probably a little bit happier with that. Yesterday was pretty brutal, and yeah, I have been here since Thursday. So I have got a chance to get used to the heat and generally speaking, come to Cincinnati, you know it's going to be hot; you know it's going to be humid. When you have a day like this, it's a nice welcome.

Q. Talk about trying to keep your patience and your confidence, the way you sometimes go weeks without a victory and I read that you talked about finding some improvement in your game even from losses --

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I lock at it as the perspective that I need to have and that I should have in that I am trying to constantly remind myself is each day is a new day. A new day, a new opportunity to improve, to better yourself; today is a new day. Today starts -- I am on a winning streak now. It's only one, but it is a winning streak, and we'll take it and take it and be positive from here. I can't change all the things that have happened in the past. I can only learn from them. And from here on out, try to do things that have gotten me to this point where I am able to play this kind of tennis. No reason to not keep that same road, keep that same path. So I don't know how I am going to do this week but off to a great start and like I said, hopefully tomorrow have that same attitude and same perspective and hopefully played just as well.

Q. You won in '93 and '94. Can we expect a three-peat this year?

MICHAEL CHANG: It is a long ways. It's only Tuesday. It's a tough draw. Right now I am just concentrating on my second round match.

Q. How do you handle it, nine years from today, such a tournament, how do you compare your body your endurance when you compare this tournament nine years before and today?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't know, I feel -- physically I feel pretty good. The nice thing is that I am healthy right now. I don't have any kind of major injuries. I don't have any nagging injuries and that is always important. Physically I feel good, so yeah, that's a good thing and I feel like, you know, come out here and I should be physically fit enough to be able to play three tough sets with anybody out here. So as long as I feel like I put in the work and yeah, physically I feel pretty good.

Q. Nobody expects tennis players nowadays to be playing into their 30s whatever, necessarily. But what do you think has changed over the last few years from say maybe 1997 to now? Do you still feel like you are playing somewhat near the same level of tennis and maybe this younger generation is another level higher than maybe the guys were in the '80s or whatever?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, I wouldn't say that. I think the Tour itself has gotten tougher. Scheduling and has definitely gotten tougher, playing a lot more than when I first came on the Tour. When I first came on the Tour average amount of tournaments you play in were 15, 17 tournaments a year. Now it's -- you are in the mid-20s, and some guys are up in the 30s. Really isn't much of an off-season for tennis and the draws are lot bigger and tougher too. Give you example here, you have straight 64 draw. Maybe nine, ten years ago I think maybe it was 48 draw with byes. And then maybe you have some of the other players like maybe some clay court players still in Europe playing some of the clay court events. It makes these tournaments that much more difficult to bin. That's why I really can't say that you know, you can expect a guy to win these kind of tournaments back-to-back. Because it is just tough. In many instances it's almost a miniature Grand Slams. In some aspects it is much more difficult than a Grand Slam because you are playing everyday in this kind of heat; you have got 64 of the best players in the world. By all means, it's not getting any easier. So things have changed in certain aspects. But all and all, nothing, you know, drastic or major difference or anything like that, I would say.

Q. Do you sense every year when you kind of get close to this time of yeah that you look forward to the atmosphere and do you have a fan base here now, that sort of thing?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think I have a fan base, but it's not like, you know, determined or anything, but I have always enjoyed coming back to Cincinnati. From the first year that we were here, first few years we stayed in housing and up until now Cincinnati has been a great stop for me. It just a very easy town to get in and out of, and to do your things, and a lot of things you can enjoy outside of many coming out and working hard and playing your matches. And the people are great. I mean, I don't know if there really is a whole lot of other things that you can ask for in a tournament. I know that's probably what a lot of the players would tell you, the same reasons.

Q. What have you done in your free time here?

MICHAEL CHANG: I played in the golf tournament the two-man scramble, really unlucky on a lot of the birdie putts, but I played with Carl, we finished like 2-, 3-under, so it was fun. It was hot. But we had a lot of fun. Next time maybe we'll read the greens a little bit better.

Q. How much longer do you anticipate continuing on, pursuing this career of yours?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I realize that I am in the twilight of my career. There's no question about that. I feel like I really would like to give another good year and a half left. There's no set timetable, set time as far as like when I am going to say enough is enough. It may be a little bit longer, it may be not quite as long. If the day comes where, you know, I don't feel like working hard, I don't feel like going out and playing this kind of a match or I don't enjoy the intensity of being out there, then I know my time has come. I am not the type of person where I am really going to try to drag things out, and do this or that. If I am going to do something, I am going to give it my 100%. If I am not going to give it my 100%, I won't do it. God has blessed me with a lot much more than I could ever imagine in my career. I never even dreamed of playing professional tennis at this caliber for so many years, so everything from here on out is really icing on the cake. And to be honest with you, I think that there's something inside me that hopes that something great will happen from the time -- from this time 'til the time that I call it a day. But I think with anything, hopes and dreams and stuff are all part of what makes life exciting. I want to be able to go out and give my best and when the day comes I will be able to look back at my career and say being a part of the ATP Tour and for so many years, really was a blessing. Not only on the court but off the court as well. To be able to look back and, you know, have no regrets that I should have done that or should have done that, yeah, and really go out and hopefully finish on a high note. See what the Lord has planned.

End of FastScripts….

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