March 18, 1999
KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA
MIKI SINGH: First question for Michael.
Q. What are your feelings now, Michael?
MICHAEL CHANG: It's tough. I mean, it's very frustrating. I don't really have any answers to give you. I'm out there trying to play the best tennis I can play. Things just aren't happening. I'm not really sure totally what's really going on. I don't have any answers for you.
Q. Can you point to anything physically? Do you feel a step slower, half step slower, mechanics not quite what you want them to be?
MICHAEL CHANG: You know, it's been tough to kind of figure out a little bit. For me, when I feel like I'm playing well, I know the movement is there, I feel like I'm pretty fluid. I feel like in certain instances I get the right shot and I'm just missing. That's pretty frustrating to know that my error count was pretty high today. I feel like when I have a shot that I want to go for, I have to go for that shot. They're just not falling.
Q. Are you guys in any way taping the matches so you can go back and look, even slow-mo stuff?
MICHAEL CHANG: Well, as of late, my family has been traveling with me. That's actually not a bad idea, to go back and maybe look at some tapes to see exactly what I'm doing that's maybe not right or not correct. That's actually a pretty good idea.
Q. It's done in most other sports.
MICHAEL CHANG: There have been times when we've gone back to look at things.
Q. Freeze frame a stroke, elbow isn't high enough, whatever, shoulder drop, something that you'd see in a second if you could freeze it or slow it down, "Hey, my shoulder is not supposed to be like that."
MICHAEL CHANG: The thing is, I don't feel it's like one particular shot. I think if it was one particular shot, then I'd be able to know. There's something else that I'm missing. That's been the tough part. It hasn't been a lack of working at it, hasn't been a lack of time in the gym and stuff like that because I've been putting in the work that I know I need to put in. It's my hope that one day it will click (snapping fingers).
Q. Is it possible that although athletes are sometimes the last people to say so, time has robbed you of certain things? You see it with Jim Courier. He's been fighting against a drooping ranking for the last three years, and won't quit because he has been there, knows what it's like to get back, wants it badly enough, probably as badly as you do. Maybe age is robbing him of something in his game that he had when he was 21, 22. Is it possible it's happening with Michael Chang?
MICHAEL CHANG: It's possible. Honestly speaking, I feel like it's different if you're in your 30s or something, where that kind of tends to be the age now where people say, "Okay, my game is slowly declining." I think part of the reason for some of the other guys having to retire, they've wanted to move their lives on, do other things. For me, I still enjoy the sport of tennis. I enjoy it tremendously. For me to be out there playing is better than to not be playing at all.
Q. I'm not trying to suggest in any way that it's time to quit, but when you look around at the Tour and see these young guys out there, all of them very talented, Lleyton Hewitt, only 18, Moya, Marat Safin, all very eager. You can probably remember what it felt like because you were at that point yourself at one point. It doesn't necessarily mean that your game has disappeared, but maybe it dropped half a notch where these young players who bring so much eagerness to the court are ready to pounce.
MICHAEL CHANG: It's possible. I think in certain aspects it's probably true to a certain extent that the guys are young, they're hungry, and they're eager. I think at the same time I feel like part of this has to do with injury. It's always going to take a little bit of time to get back. I honestly feel that God wants me to go out and fight through this. Even when I fractured my hip at the end of '89, I really didn't get back to the Top 10 till two years later.
Q. Where are you now physically?
MICHAEL CHANG: Physically, I'm feeling actually pretty good. Injury-wise I'm doing very good, which is important. It's something that I'm going to continue to fight through. I think you have certain points that are valid. But I know that I'm not going to be out there playing if I didn't feel like -- if I didn't have that hope of being able to go out and get back. That's my hope. The tough times and stuff, they're never easy to go through. That's something I'm going through now. But at the same time I know God's going to bring me through. Whether I'm able to get back to the Top 10 or win another Grand Slam tournament, I really don't know. It's my hope. I'd love to be able to go out and finish off my career on a high note, but that's not something that I know will happen. Only God knows that.
Q. Going to Seattle? Off to the Orient next?
MICHAEL CHANG: Next tournament for me is in Hong Kong. I'll probably go a little bit early, take care of some things, stuff like that.
Q. I've been reading that several strains of salmon have almost been found to be extinct. What's going on up there?
MICHAEL CHANG: Honestly, I think if they employed the same laws that they do here in Florida as far as gill netting, because they allow gill netting up there.
Q. The salmon industry is big.
MICHAEL CHANG: It's really big. There's conflicts, fights going on between Canadian, US salmon industries, fisheries, the tribal Indians, what they're allowed to take. I think part of it has to do with the gill netting. When they had gill netting here in Florida, it wiped out a lot of the fish. They have since banned it for a couple years. Now it's starting to rebound. It's a resource that you have to protect. Certain aspects, salmon have to fight their way through the tough times, too. That's something I have to keep working at. It hasn't been easy. In fact, it's been very frustrating. A lot of emotions and stuff rolling and rolling and rolling. I still have that faith. I'm not going to lose that faith. In certain aspects, I feel like you can break my serve, but you can't break my spirit. That's something I'm going to continue to work at. I think it's going to come. I don't know when, but I'll continue to fight through it. God's going to bring me through the tough times.
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