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September 1, 2000

Michael Chang


MODERATOR: Questions for Michael.

Q. He won an astonishing amount of his first serves. What was going on there? Were you having trouble with his serve?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, Todd was serving pretty well today. You know, definitely hitting all the spots pretty good. I knew pretty much throughout the day, for the most part, he was going pretty much right at me, at my body and stuff. I just couldn't -- yeah, I really couldn't do much with it. That's really the only time, I had maybe like one breakpoint the whole match. Obviously, if he's serving that well, you know, it puts a little bit more pressure to hold your own serve. I was struggling a little bit today on one side. In the stadium, it pushes -- one side you're playing with the wind, one side you're playing against the wind. On the side I was playing against the wind, I was struggling quite a bit on that side. I think it gave Todd maybe just a little bit more time to set up for his shots. If I didn't get a first serve in, he would take advantage of the second. The combination didn't help me out. It was really kind of hard to, you know, do much out there.

Q. When you go on to that court, I realize when you played the final, it was not this stadium, but the other stadium, when you go onto a show court, do you think about you were one match away from the No. 1 ranking, US Open champion?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think sometimes I think about that. I thought about it maybe a couple times since I've been here at The Open. But there's not that much to think about. I mean, you can only kind of reminisce a little bit and think about things you would have done differently. Other than that, you try to concentrate on the task at hand.

Q. Do you think about it in a positive way, "I was a US Open finalist," or do you beat yourself up a little bit?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think maybe because -- I feel the way I look upon things, my standard is pretty high. I think more probably it was a missed opportunity rather than just being satisfied with getting to the finals. I feel like I've come so close to doing both, winning my second Grand Slam title, and also becoming No. 1. It's a little bit tough to swallow when both happen on the same day, and you fall short in just one day. That in itself is a little bit heartbreaking. There's only so much you can do. I think maybe, come a time when I've moved on after tennis, I think maybe at that time I'll be able to look back and say to get to the finals of the US Open finals was a great accomplishment.

Q. Did you think about it at all today, when you're down two sets?

MICHAEL CHANG: No. Pretty much when I'm down two sets, I'm pretty much thinking about coming back and trying to get back. You know, I know that I've done it before, so I give myself that hope of being able to do it again. Sometimes I'm able to do it, and sometimes not. Yeah, I mean, not today.

Q. Why not today, why weren't you able to come back?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think for the most part, it was hard to make a dent in his serve. I just didn't get very many opportunities. Yeah, I just didn't get a whole lot of opportunities. You know, that kind of hurts me, particularly against a guy like Todd. I know if I'm able to break him on his serve, then I know I'm in good shape. I'm able to go out and I think be a little bit more sure of my shots. I mean, that's really what's going to win or lose a match against him, is being able to break his serve or not. Normally, the times I've played him in the past, I've been able to do that. Today was different. Just didn't have many opportunities at all. He served very well today, served very smart.

Q. Is it amazing to see somebody like Todd that has maybe not gotten better as he's gotten older, but really hasn't lost, reaching the final here last year?

MICHAEL CHANG: I would say to a certain degree that it is a little bit strange, but at the same time I would say with Todd it's not. Part of the reason why I say that is because his game is so simple. If you ever look at his strokes, if you ever look at his technique, there's really not much to it. He keeps things very simple, no extra movement, no wild, fancy stuff. He's just pretty much straight-up, good, basic, fundamental tennis. I think when you have that, you have a lot less that can go wrong, unless your timing and stuff like that is off. In that aspect, with his game, I think it definitely helps him out, helps him get back maybe a little bit quicker than maybe some of the other guys. I think being a little bit taller, working on the serve obviously makes it a little bit easier to get back, as well. If you're able to serve a few more big serves, it makes it that much easier to not have to work so hard.

Q. You had some nice results this summer. How disappointing is it to go out second round?

MICHAEL CHANG: I feel like the whole thing has been a progression. I've struggled really this year in all the big events. Why that is, I'm not quite sure. I've done pretty well in the smaller events. But the bigger events, the Grand Slams, The Masters Series, I've struggled in those events. It's something I'm going to have to make a little bit of a transition maybe in my mentality or the way I approach some of these tournaments, make that next step to that next level, to be able to do well in the bigger events. This year, it's been a much better year than in the years past, the last couple years. But still, you come down to it, the small ones are great to do well in, but the big ones, you know, that's really what you're trying to have your best tennis for.

Q. Do you think you can change your mindset or your preparation for the Slams?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't know really at this point. I think if I had known, I would have done it. I felt pretty good coming into this year's US Open, feeling pretty good, hitting the ball well, healthy. Things just didn't go the way that I wanted them to today. I mean, I just have to constantly reevaluate things, I think maybe just continue to work at it, too. Maybe sometimes I'm such a thinker, I reevaluate too much. Sometimes when it comes down to it, I really don't need to do anything, I don't really need to change anything. I need to just keep plugging away, working at it. I need to know my game will get better. When my game gets better, I'm going to do better in the smaller tournaments, and do better in the bigger events, as well. My game is a lot better now than it was last year at the same time. I mean, for me at least there's no comparison. It's taken me a little bit of time to get back.

Q. If you have struggled in the big events, how do you consider the Olympics? How do you prepare for that? Is that in your mind?

MICHAEL CHANG: Obviously, yeah. I mean, you know, I feel like for me pretty much throughout -- from here on out, it's probably the biggest event for me remaining left for the end of the year. Obviously there are some important tournaments for me in Asia and some really big events there in Europe. Yeah, the Olympics for me is going to be important. I don't see myself playing the Olympics in 2004. This is my one opportunity to be able to do well in Sydney. Hopefully I'm able to do that.

Q. Will you play Davis Cup in 2001, if asked?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think it's one of those things where I'm constantly looking at scheduling, looking at the way things fall, looking at the draw, talking it over with John or with some of the other guys, whoever is looking to play. I really think that that's kind of the only way you can go about doing it. I don't want to be able to sit here and say that I'm committed to playing every single tie next year, where if physically I'm not able to, then you're saying something that you're having to eat your words. When the opportunity arises and things work out, then definitely.

Q. What types of things are you going to work on that you didn't like about your game today? Is there anything that stood out with today's match that you could change or would want to change?

MICHAEL CHANG: I honestly think if I returned serve a little bit better today, given myself a few more opportunities, I think it could very well have been a different match. Yeah, normally I have quite a few opportunities, quite a few break opportunities. I just didn't get that today at all.

Q. Do you have a feel for the future of America's men's tennis?

MICHAEL CHANG: I'm kind of mixed a little bit on that. I want to sit here and tell you that there are a lot of great, talented players - and really there are. I think it's a little bit difficult when you have these up-and-coming Americans, they're doing well, they're playing well, they're on their way to making their mark, and I think it's a little bit difficult sometimes when they're kind of, you know, touted as the next great American tennis player when they haven't really reached that potential yet. I think, to a certain degree, it does put quite a bit of pressure on them before anything has really happened. I know with that kind of pressure, it is always sometimes difficult to play. Obviously there are some very talented Americans doing very well. Gambill is one. Obviously you have guys like Justin and even younger guys like Roddick. There are definitely some talented Americans out there, who are trying to make their mark. Sometimes you just have to give them a little bit of time and just say, "Hey, you know, we're behind you, we're supporting you, just go out and give your best," without having to worry about the future of American tennis. In a sense you already are the future. When the older guys move on, they're the future. Just go out and play your heart out.

Q. What do you remember about '92 (inaudible)? Does that seem like ages ago?

MICHAEL CHANG: The '92 Olympics, I didn't have a very good experience in Barcelona. I think maybe partly because the conditions were tough there. It was very hot, very humid. The temperature was in the 90s. I'm not complaining about where we were staying, but the dorms were pretty tough. There was no air-conditioning at all. We'd be sleeping, pretty much just sweating at night. Realizing that you're going to have to go and play a three-out-of-five set match the next day out is pretty tough. That made it difficult. On top of that, I got through my first round. My second round match, I ate a bad sandwich in the lounge, so I got sick during my match. Barcelona wasn't a very favorable experience for me, other than just going around, walking around the city a little bit. People were actually very, very nice there.

Q. Are you staying in a hotel this time?

MICHAEL CHANG: I am. I am. I think the rest of the team is, as well. I'm looking forward to the Olympics, I am. I think it's going to be a good experience. Like I said, this will probably be my last opportunity to play. I think it's going to be fun.

Q. What would winning a medal in Sydney rank in terms of achievement, compared to winning another Grand Slam?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think at this point in my career, I think it would rank probably one step below the French Open, I would say. Yeah, I would say that.

Q. So winning here would be top on the list?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think winning any Grand Slam is pretty special, definitely. Yeah, I mean, the Grand Slams are important. Obviously here in the US Open, it's even more special because it's your home country. I think all the people here, you know, they always go out of their way to make it easy for the American players. For us, you know, it's something that we appreciate. We feel like when we come here, we definitely feel like it's our Grand Slam. All the people around here, the USTA, really go out of the way to make everything very comfortable for us. It makes us that much more eager to do well here, on top of just being New York.

Q. Are you looking forward to being part of the team?

MICHAEL CHANG: I am. I think it's a little bit different, though. It's a team effort, but yet it's not really a team effort. That's one thing that's kind of been strange. I would have hoped that maybe they would change the format a little bit because with the Olympics, obviously it's something where you're competing against other countries, very much along that aspect. Here you have a sport like tennis where I know in Barcelona, they had one match where Stich played Charlie Steeb first round, both from the same country. You have to knock out somebody from your country, a little bit hard in that aspect. When it comes down to it, I know in Barcelona, we were helping each other out, even though we were competing in an individual tournament. We were still making the effort to help each other out, warm up and practice, stuff like that.

Q. Do you think in some way if you play Davis Cup, despite the difficulty of schedule, just being in that team atmosphere would somehow lift your spirit and help you in some way, your game?

MICHAEL CHANG: I mean, sure. I think that's very possible. I don't feel like I'm necessarily down as far as my tennis and stuff goes. I think probably the most difficult thing about playing Davis Cup is that emotionally it's something when you're a part of it, during that week, you're on a very emotional high. The tough things are the subsequent weeks after. You feel like physically and mentally it's pretty draining. I think probably most of the guys will tell you that on the American team. It does make it a little bit difficult to play the following weeks after. That's probably the toughest thing. Scheduling doesn't make it any easier either because the tour, you're pretty much playing -- you could literally almost play 40 weeks a year, if you wanted to. The schedule already itself is pretty packed. If you're making trips from country to country, different surfaces, physically it's tough because, you know, the road throughout the year is a long one.

Q. What do you think it would be like playing for John, an intense and passionate guy?

MICHAEL CHANG: In what aspect?

Q. Well, just in the difference of your personalities or your approaches. You seem more reflective, more cerebral in your approach.

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't exactly know how it would be. I know John and I are pretty different. I really don't know. I think obviously John is someone who is very vocal, obviously would get very excited. I think for me, maybe I tend to internalize a little bit more, except on a few occasions here and there. Other than that, I would think John would provide a pretty good insight into the game, strategy and stuff like that, because he knows the game quite well.

Q. I know a lot of players are turning to new media to train.

MICHAEL CHANG: Turning to what?

Q. New media, more technical devices to help them train. Is there anything you use?

MICHAEL CHANG: What do you mean by "new media"?

Q. Digital cameras to tape your practices, sort of high-tech.

MICHAEL CHANG: We've used video cameras and stuff to look at particular strokes and things like that. Other than that, pretty much Carl is right there on the court with me. For the most part, we don't use that much. For sure, I think looking at videos and things you can improve on, sure, it would always be helpful I think in any sport.

End of FastScripts....

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