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March 21, 2002

Michael Chang


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What are your emotions right now, Mike?

MICHAEL CHANG: Uhm... It's a little bit difficult to describe. I mean, you know, part of it is disappointment. Part of it is, you know, a bit of anger. You know, I felt like I had opportunities there to win the match at the end, and, you know, wasn't quite able to pull it off. So, I'd say that you got a lot of emotions churning inside, and I can tell you that they're pretty strong.

Q. Have you ever gone through a stretch remotely similar to this in your career, anything where you can draw from?


Q. Will we see you continue to serve and volley?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I was doing pretty well there actually. I think if I didn't choke that last volley, I think I would have won the match. You know, second-guessed myself there at the end. But I think actually, I was serve and volleying pretty well. Was cramping a little bit early part of the third, and then, you know, they started to get better. Trying to serve-volley to shorten up the points, and, yeah, I was winning a lot of points, you know, serve and volleying quite effectively. I decided to keep on doing it, and, you know, just that last volley I think, you know, should -- I'd make it nine-out-of-ten-times. So, little bit disappointing. But, yeah, not too bad. I think that, you know, I've always learned in my career to, you know, improvise and make the most of situations. And, yeah, it's not -- serve and volleying is not really my game, but, you know, I'm not afraid to do it, you know, at particular times. Particularly if you know you're winning points.

Q. Has to be kind of a disappointing and disheartening stretch for you right now. What are you using to motivate yourself to keep going out there?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think a lot of it is I think two things: One is faith; one is hope. I think if those two weren't as strong as they are, I would sit right here and I would tell you, you know, "Let's just call it a day. Let's just call it a career." But those two things are still strong. They're stronger than the emotions that I feel now. If they weren't, I would call it a day. You know, I think I've had an incredible career. You know, I've, you know, been blessed with a lot more than I ever imagined. You know, I never imagined to be able to play on the professional tour. You know, I've had dreams of, you know, winning Wimbledon and winning the French Open and the US Open. But those are dreams that you, in a sense, don't really think that they would be realities of even playing. You know, when you're seven, eight, nine years old, you're in your basement and you're winning those tournaments, those are dreams. You never really imagined them, for them to be able to come true where you're actually able to play those events much less having a chance at winning them. So, I think it's important that I've had this stretch where I can look at it negatively. You know, I can look at it and say, "Why is this happening?" And, you know, "I deserve better," "I deserve more." But in reality, if I were to look at it, you know, from the right perspective, you know, I've been given a lot more than I think that, you know, much more than I deserve and much more than I ever imagined.

Q. What wildcards do you have left?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't think there's a limit, as far as I'm concerned. I know there was a period of time where I think they did impose that, as far as wildcards were concerned. I think that year when Stephanie Rehe, played one year where she took a ton of wildcards then they started to limit. I don't think they have that on the tour; I could be wrong. I don't think so. So obviously, you know, I come into this event and I'm thankful for the opportunity to play. And, you know, today was disappointing, but, you know, like I said, as long as that faith and that hope is as strong as it is, you know, I'm going to keep plugging away. So I'm not afraid of coming back. I think it would be -- I would have a regret if I didn't try. So, I don't know what the future holds. I may not win another match. But at least it's important for me to walk away knowing that, you know, that I gave it my all. And when I do call it a day, I'll be able to hold my head high and say to play on the tour was something special, was an opportunity to, you know, play a lot of great tournaments, play against some of the best players in the world and some of the greatest venues of the world and feel good about it.

Q. Is there a chance that that day is close, Michael, in your mind?

MICHAEL CHANG: At this point, at this point no. No. I mean, there are times where I do think about it, but, you know, like I said, you know, as long as that faith and as long as that hope is as strong as it is, you know, I'm going to continue my direction. So...

Q. You say "hope." What are you hoping for at this point? What do you see out there for you?

MICHAEL CHANG: It's my belief in my heart that there are better days for me tennis-wise; that I can do better than what my results for this, you know, this past year obviously and in the subsequent years. That is my hope. My hope is that there are better things that are in store for me.

Q. Anything more specific than that?

MICHAEL CHANG: I mean, I have different things, obviously. But I'll probably keep those to myself, so...

Q. What do you think you need to do to your game to get it back to that point, to make that comeback?

MICHAEL CHANG: At this point, to be honest with you, I really don't know. I've tried a lot of different things. You know, I've tried a lot of different things. To be honest with you, I really don't know. I don't have answers for you right now. So, all I can say is that, you know, when I go and I try something a little bit new, you know, change something a little bit in my game, then, you know, it gives me a little bit of spring in my step and say, "Well, how is this going to affect my game? Is it going to make me a better player?" And I think generally speaking, I'm excited to see the next day what kind of an effect it has. So at least that's a good thing.

Q. Do you think you're as willing to grind out ones today as you were, say, three, four years ago?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think if I'm cramping, I think it makes it a little difficult. I try, that one point I had in that breaker, actually overran that shot. I was disappointed that I missed it, but I felt good to actually overrun the ball. So, I don't know. It's hard to compare. It's hard to compare with three, four, five years ago. I can only, you know -- I can only deal with the present and what I have now.

Q. You say you're not thinking of retiring. But do you give thought to what you're going to do when you do retire, what comes next? Any ideas?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, actually there are quite a few different things that I'd like to do. I think definitely get involved a little bit more with our family foundation. We've been doing a lot of exciting things with that in the Seattle area. We actually are having our CSL, which is a Christian Sports League Basketball Championships this coming weekend, so that's pretty exciting. And maybe somewhere down the line family's in there - maybe. So, you know, we'll wait and see. But obviously, I know I'm still going to be involved in tennis one way or another. I know how much you guys are going to miss me, so I'll make sure I pop my head in every now and then and say "hello," but I'd definitely like to be able to continue to work with some of the young kids, particularly in the Asian-Pacific region. And, you know, be able to make an impact there. Definitely, yeah, I just don't see myself as the type of person to sit around and, you know, go golfing or fishing every day. I need to be productive. I need to be busy and feel good about what I'm doing.

Q. Can you talk about family? Have you found a mom yet?


Q. Have you found a mom? You're talking about a family.

MICHAEL CHANG: Oh, okay (laughing).

Q. Anyone special?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well... I thought so. I thought so. It's been difficult. You know, I think it's one of those things where sometimes you can never really say until, you know, until after you say, "I do," I guess. So, yeah, it's not an easy part of my life and, yeah, it's not an easy part of my life. I try, I try my best. Yeah...

Q. What's your attitude about challengers at this point, if you had to go down and play?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I've played a few. I've played a few already.

Q. How about going on an extended challenger?

MICHAEL CHANG: If I had to play exclusively challengers, and I'm doing as well as I'm doing now, I think then I'd have to reevaluate things. But if I'm able to, you know, sometimes you look at challengers and you say, "Maybe it's a bad thing." But I think in some aspects maybe it's a good thing. If you're able to win a few matches, gain some confidence and say, "Well, this is the way I need to play and I'm winning this way," then you never know. Sometimes that can jump start things, and, you know, and get things, you know, get the ball rolling in the right way. So, that's the way I see it.

Q. How long ago did you switch to Babolat?

MICHAEL CHANG: Beginning of last summer.

Q. You look on the Juniors circuit. A lot of the guys are using it. Why did you pick it up?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I changed -- I mean, I was going through different changes. You know, I tried a few different other racquets. I felt like this one, you know, gave me a little bit more than my Prince racquet. So, you know, I felt like it's a good change for me. Gave me a little bit more power, little bit more spin. So, you know, obviously with the way that the guys are hitting now, you know, you needed to be able to fight back with something. So, you know, you look for anything that can help you to improve. And I, as you know, in my career I've never been one that's been willing to, you know, not look at something if it can help my game. If it can help me hit the ball more accurate or with more power or something that, you know, some kind of workout drill or something that can help me, you know, speed-wise, movement-wise, yeah. I mean, generally speaking, I would try to be open to things that help me to become a better player.

Q. Michael, I'm a late starter here. You mentioned the word "anger" when it started. Does that refer to those routine forehands you missed in the tiebreaker?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, a little more I choked that volley (laughing). I mean, you would get mad if you missed that volley, Bud.

Q. Yes, I would.

MICHAEL CHANG: So... No, I think that -- well, it's just there are different things. You know, I think it's a natural emotion. You know, I'm not going to sit here and tell you --.

Q. I never heard you say that before, though. It struck me.

MICHAEL CHANG: I think it's a natural emotion. I'm not immune to it. I have times where I do get angry. You know, obviously today was disappointing. You know, I fought back, you know, saved a few matchpoints and put myself in a position to win the match and, you know, did all the right things to get the shots that I needed. And, you know, just wasn't quite able to do it. So, you know, that and, you know, obviously, you know, this year's been very frustrating. So, it's hard not to feel, you know, angry about losing. Because I'm not accustomed to it. It's not -- you know, it's not part of my lifestyle I guess, you know. I've won a lot more than I've lost, and for me to lose so many matches is a little bit uncharacteristic. And I think if I wasn't angry, then maybe it would mean that I really didn't care.

Q. It would be time to hang it up?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah. And it's definitely not where I am.

Q. Last week you had a one-hour session with Lleyton Hewitt on Stadium. You're 30 now. He's 21. Do you look across the net at all and think, "That was me nine, ten years ago?"

MICHAEL CHANG: No. No, Lleyton's his own person. Lleyton's his own person, his own style. You know, I'm happy that he's had the success that he's had, particularly in a, you know, in a tennis world where it's very -- the way he plays is very different. Obviously, for me, somebody to see plays a little bit similar to me, same stature, same type of style, I think is encouraging. And it is good to see. You know, I -- one of these days actually, I've just been looking forward to playing him. I've had opportunities where, you know, either I lost the match before or he lost the match before or he got hurt one time. So, I've never really had the opportunity to play Lleyton. And, you know, I was hoping I would have an opportunity here, but it didn't happen. But it was nice to play, you know, to play a practice set with him out on Center Court. You know, it felt -- it was good.

Q. Obviously, you were relying on the goodness of some tournament directors and stuff, but what are you hoping your schedule is into the French? If you had your choice of where you'd like?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well it's a little bit difficult to say because I don't know what opportunities I have in Europe. To be honest with you, I think that my opportunities here in the States are probably, generally speaking, a little more promising than they are in Europe. I think that, you know, I have a little better relationship with the tournament directors here, and they've been kind enough to, you know, to give me wildcards. So, you know, I have to look at my situation, see what tournaments I can get in to, see what tournaments where, you know, I will be given wildcards and go from there.

Q. You'd think you'd get one at the French, wouldn't you, as the champ?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well... I don't know. You know, I think the French Federation has been very kind to me over the years.

Q. They ought to be.

MICHAEL CHANG: They gave me a wildcard in 1988, and I think at that time it was unheard of for anybody -- any non-French to get wildcards. And, you know, something when you're young in your career, you always remember. So they've been very kind to me over the years. So hopefully, I won't need it. I think my ranking right now is borderline to get in, so, you know, if I'm able to do, you know, have some decent results over the next few weeks, hopefully I won't need it. And I would hope that they wouldn't have to give me one in order for me to get in.

Q. Do you feel you've lost a step, even if you had, you'd be faster than most players?

MICHAEL CHANG: I guess so. I guess so. But, you know, it's one thing to get to the ball; it's another thing what you do with it. You know? So, right now I'm not quite doing as much with the ball as I need to. I feel like I'm playing a little bit too much defensive tennis than what I'd like, you know. So, yeah...

Q. It's part of your frustration, that maybe age is catching up with you right now?

MICHAEL CHANG: You know, I think it's a myth. To be honest with you, I think the age factor in that aspect is a myth. I think it's what you want to make of it. I think if you yourself believe it, I think your body will go along with that. If you don't believe it, I think your body will go along with that, too. I think you take a different, you know, different sports where people do really excel in their 30s. I think Jordan is a great example. Obviously, you know, Michael is a little bit different. But, you know, you even look at Andre. Andre had his best years when he was 30, 30 years old. So, I'd probably put on a few more miles than he has (laughter), but, you know, Andreas Gomez, winning his first Grand Slam at I believe 33, 34. So, you know, I've got a lot of youngest-ever records. Maybe I'll make some oldest records. So, you know, right now I'm clinging to that faith and to that hope.

End of FastScripts….

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