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October 25, 1999

Michael Chang


ATP: Questions for Michael, please.

Q. The not unfamiliar sight of you winning in three sets from a set down. How did you feel you were playing today?

MICHAEL CHANG: I felt like I was playing some pretty good tennis. I think I hit some good shots out there. I definitely had to fight my way through. He was playing some good tennis. Definitely had a lot of long points, long rallies. I think the second set tiebreaker was really the key to the match. I think once I won the second set breaker, you know, you could see that he was pretty agitated, started to throw in a few errors. I was able to, you know, get on top early in the third. Overall, I think it's been a pretty good match for me.

Q. When you come to a tournament like this one where most of the world's top players are, or if you go to a Slam where all the top players are, do you still feel the same buzz you maybe got four or five years ago?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, definitely. I think maybe a little bit more so now actually because my ranking has dropped some, I'm hungry to get back. I think these events, the depth is really great. Obviously, like you said, you have so many of the best players here. Really the only ones not playing are because of injury or illness. It makes the tournament that much tougher. You take into consideration a tournament like this, and even next year with the Super 9's, everyone really being geared to have to play those events, all of them, you know, tournaments are only going to get tougher and tougher.

Q. You talked about hunger. Has there ever been a time this year when you thought, "Do I still possess that hunger to try to get back up at the top?"

MICHAEL CHANG: I can't really say that there was a time where I didn't really have the hunger. I think there were definitely times of major frustration and disappointment, you know, times where there was really a letdown, trying to get back, thinking that you made the right changes, right adjustments, then you go and lose early again. I feel like, you know, those things are behind me. My spirit is, you know, lifted up. I feel good out there playing. I think that's important, your attitude, your perspective, how you approach things, trying not to put so much pressure on myself as I have in the past, and just take things step by step.

Q. You had so much success over the years, particularly early. Some people who aren't just spectators, who are sort of on the fringe of the game, still consider you one of the top players in the game. What do you get out of it now that you're really not seeded or quite at the same level? What do you still get out of it?

MICHAEL CHANG: To be honest with you, I feel like in certain ways I've accomplished a lot in my career. I think if God told me that it was time to wrap things up, you know, I think I would be content with what has been accomplished. But, you know, to be honest with you, I feel like there are bigger and better things that are awaiting me. I don't think it's in my best interest to go on and drag out my career for another few years if I don't really have the hunger and desire to go out there and compete, to work hard, to feel good about it. I think life's too short, and I've spent too many years on Tour to do that. But I don't feel that way. You know, I don't feel like it's time to hang things up. Honestly, in my heart, I have faith that I'll be able to get back up there. I don't know when; I don't know if it's going to happen. But I have faith that it's going to happen.

Q. Have you actually sort of, however briefly, started to think of what you might do in five or ten years' time when you're not playing on the circuit?

MICHAEL CHANG: Hopefully by that time I'll have met the right lady and will have started a family. You know, family is very important to me. I know that I'll still be involved in tennis one way or another. I feel a particular calling to the Asia-Pacific rim. I feel very close to the people there. I'd love to be able to do some work over there, maybe some missionary work. You know, be able to introduce to them a little more the sport of tennis. Definitely do some things with my foundation, as well. I have some things that are definitely, you know, waiting for me when I retire. It's not something that when I retire, it's like, "Now what do I do?" I have a lot of things waiting for me, but the time has not yet come. Definitely look forward to the years ahead. But for the moment, those years are going to be occupied with tennis primarily.

Q. You say you'll get back up there. What would be an achievement of getting back up there? Are you talking about Top 20, Top 10 or top 2 again? What would be "getting back up there"?

MICHAEL CHANG: I feel like Top 10 has been a place that I've been for quite some time. To be honest with you, I'd love to be able to get back to No. 2. I'd love to be able to maybe reach No. 1 one of these days. We'll see if it happens. But definitely going and giving it my best shot. To be honest with you, if I were to quit now, I think I would, you know, regret doing that just because times got tough. Let's face it, everyone goes through tough times. My career has been one of consistency up until the past years. This is my tough time, and it's time to persevere through this particular point in time. I think if I'm able to get through it, good things await me.

Q. Can you analyze why it's been so tough? Injuries?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think initially it was injuries. That kind of got me started off on a bad note last year. This year has been a struggle with form. I feel like tennis-wise things are heading in the right direction. Like I said, I feel good out there playing, regardless of whether I've won or lost over the past couple tournaments. Hopefully, things are really a step in the right direction. That's the way I feel.

Q. With regard to the rankings, do you think it is an advantage for you because the rankings have changed; everybody is starting with nothing to come back?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, it depends on how you look at it. I think if my ranking is in the 70s, obviously I have to get my ranking up to get into the big events like this week here. I don't want to have to rely upon wildcards or having to qualify, you know, to get into the events. I think the ranking, it will be interesting with the race and stuff. You still have the other ranking as far as entry lists and seeding and stuff like that.

Q. Not wishing to be negative, but if it came to playing quallies for Grand Slams or things like that, would that make you think differently?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't think initially, no. You know, I do what I need to do. If it takes, you know, having to go through some qually events or what have you, then I'm going to do it. Obviously, if I'm struggling at that level, struggling in some of the smaller tournaments, you know, then I have to sit down and say, "Is this something I want to continue? I've given it my best shot. Is this something I want to continue?" I think it is, you know, a matter of looking at it in reality. But, you know, hopefully, like you said, if you think about it more in the positive sense, that won't happen.

Q. Throughout your career, it's been an era where power has been one of the key factors in the game. In the last two or three years, there have been efforts on indoor tournaments to slow down the surfaces a bit, perhaps the ball. How much more power is there generally in the game than when you started?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think when I started, I think there was definitely a lot more touch. I think the size of player has changed quite a bit, too, to be honest with you. I don't know what the average height for the Top 100 guys was when I came on Tour, but you had a lot more of the touch players. You didn't have guys who could really blast 140 miles-per-hour serves. That really wasn't the mainstay, so to speak. Guys like McEnroe, Krishnan, the guys who really played with a little bit more touch. Now it's really a rarity. You have maybe one or two guys like Gianluca. Other than that, everyone is hitting the ball very hard with a lot of pace. The guys are bigger now. You're playing guys that are 6'3", 6'4", 6'5", 6'6". The game has changed. You do have to deal with that aspect of power. If you're not able to deal with it, then, you know, in many ways you're going to run into some problems.

Q. Do you think you're happy to have come into the game when you did and not come into it now, with your own height?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, not necessarily, because I think, you know, your game -- I felt that my game has kind of evolved over the years in order to be able to stay with the guys who hit hard, in order to be able to beat them, as well. I honestly (inaudible) that if I had the same game that I came on Tour with that I would be struggling in this day and age, because I've gone through the transition and have realized that the power aspect was really a major part of tennis; I had to make certain adjustments. I feel like I've done that in order to compete against guys who do hit that hard.

Q. Would it be that much more difficult for a kid coming in now of your stature to make headway, initial headway?

MICHAEL CHANG: To be honest with you, no, I don't think so. In certain aspects, maybe. But in certain aspects, if they're able to play smart tennis, you can get around it. I always tell people that. A guy who hits the ball -- the guy who is the best in the world is not the guy who can hit the ball the hardest; it's never been that way. It's always been the guy who, you know, has been able to put all these things together: touch, be able to hit pace, accuracy of shot, play the right shot at the right time. You do have some guys now who have been able to be on Tour and have gotten used to that power. Lleyton Hewitt is a good example. Lleyton is not a big guy, yet I think probably it took him a little bit of time to get used to the pace of ball, as I think it will take any junior coming on from the junior circuit to come play professional. It's just that way. I think it was the same when I came on Tour for a period of time. You just have to get used to seeing the ball quicker and quicker. Once you do that, then your eye's trained and everything else starts making adjustments. The more time you spend practicing and playing with these bigger guys, the more you get used to it.

End of FastScripts….

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