March 8, 1999
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
Q. Low spot of sorts?
MICHAEL CHANG: I think this year hasn't been all that great. It's been a little bit of a struggle. Actually, it's been quite a bit of a struggle. I think I know in time it's going to come around. I feel like it's a matter of time. Putting in the hard work and working at things, it's not there for me right now, but it will be.
Q. Why isn't it there? Do you have any way of defining that?
MICHAEL CHANG: I think part of it is coming back from a year like last year where I struggled with quite a few bad injuries. I think timing-wise and for some reason my body's kind of out of sync. I made some adjustments last year to compensate for my injuries, which really haven't helped me out as far as getting things down, as far as movement and stuff like that. I feel like once those things kind of get smoothed out, I feel like my tennis will be back to where I know it can be.
Q. So you're not thinking "This is done, this is the slide at the end"?
MICHAEL CHANG: No. I'm 27 years old. I feel like I know my best tennis is ahead of me. That's cut and dry for me. Unless I start losing every single first round or I don't feel like going out and working hard, then I'll know it's time to call it quits. Right now, the desire to go out and to work hard both on and off the court is there. I think that's really the important part of it. Maintaining a positive attitude towards things, knowing that in time God's going to take care of everything.
Q. As the rules have been explained to me, play must continue within three minutes after a trainer arrives to treat a stricken player. I wasn't timing that incident at the end, but unless I'm very much wrong, it was far more than three minutes before play resumed. Do you think the rules are properly enforced in this situation?
MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think the three minutes is a little bit deceptive because the three minutes actually starts after the trainer diagnoses what's wrong. After the guy gets hurt, the trainer can come out on the court, he could take five minutes to diagnose what's actually wrong, and then from there on get three minutes. That's the way the system works.
Q. You think the rules were properly enforced?
MICHAEL CHANG: As far as the way the book is, the players know that the three minutes starts once the diagnosis is made. Basically whenever you see an injury time-out, it won't be three minutes from the time the guy gets injured or from the time the trainer gets on the court. It's just not possible.
Q. What was going through your mind during that period when they were treating your opponent?
MICHAEL CHANG: I felt like it was a pretty good opportunity to get back in the match. I felt like it was a good chance to be able to hopefully sneak out that second set. I think if I was able to do that, maybe the tide would change a little bit. I was able to get the break. I missed a lousy forehand on the first point. Those kind of points, you can't expect to get away with hitting those kind of points and expect to beat this caliber of player.
Q. Did your classic match with Lendl at the French Open occur to you during that period?
MICHAEL CHANG: No. The situation was different. Actually, I never took an injury time-out against Ivan.
Q. Speaking of your French win, with the anniversary coming up, what is the single strongest memory from that run, from that win?
MICHAEL CHANG: What anniversary is that?
Q. The tenth anniversary.
MICHAEL CHANG: Technically last year would be ten.
GREG SHARKO: '89, '99.
MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think I still have very vivid memories of the '89 French. I think the match against Ivan, obviously particular points, particular moments. The match against Agenor, things that happened after the Chesnokov match, some of the points particularly against Stefan are vivid in my mind.
Q. What Lendl moments are still vivid?
MICHAEL CHANG: I think the second to the last point when I hit the backhand down the line for the winner. That's a pretty vivid memory. Going back to get a drink of water during the middle of one of the games because my cramps were sticking. I knew I wouldn't be able to play the point. I remember lunging for a backhand, having a cramp in my right calf, kind of limping back, then Ivan missed a forehand. The match point. The underhand serve.
Q. What prompted you to stand so close on his serve?
MICHAEL CHANG: I was going to try to pick it off. I had two match points; I was going to go for it. My mentality throughout the whole time that I was cramping was just to keep the ball in play, was to lob it as high as I could, as deep as I could. If I got a chance, just go for it. If I had a short ball or reasonable shot, to go for it. I went for it. Some of them went in, and some of them didn't. I felt like I had two chances right there, two match points. I picked off one or two serves before, so I was hoping maybe I would be able to do the same, either that or maybe coax him into a double-fault.
Q. Has anyone served underhand to you since then or have you served underhand to anyone since then?
MICHAEL CHANG: Not in a regular match, no.
Q. Have you seen that match on videotape in the last few years?
MICHAEL CHANG: No.
Q. Have you ever seen it on videotape?
MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, I have. Not in the last few years, though.
Q. Would you like to see it again?
MICHAEL CHANG: Any particular reason?
Q. Just to bring back memories, or is it something you want to make part of the past now?
MICHAEL CHANG: See, the thing is that the French Open will always be a great memory for me, I think for a lot of people. The thing is that I'm 27 years old now. I feel like when you start kind of reminiscing too much about the past, you feel like you're kind of looking back at your career. I know my career's not done yet. I honestly feel that I want to go out and do bigger and better things than the French Open in '89. I know God's given me the capability of doing it. It's frustrating to go through a period like this where you are struggling and not able to play the kind of tennis that you know you're capable of playing. I don't think there's anything wrong with looking back, but now is kind of like the present, trying to concentrate toward the future things. There will come a time where I probably will be able to look back at that, you know, share it with somebody who maybe didn't get a chance, like my niece in three months. Those will be very fond memories.
Q. But it still is one of the grittiest, most memorable triumphs of the Open Era of any performer. Does that give you satisfaction?
MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, it does. It does. I always tell people, I think particularly under the situation, the French Open with Tienanmen going on, the way in particular the last four matches were played, I think it is in many instances a very, very memorable French Open. I've had so many people throughout my career come up to me and say they were actually there watching it on centre court. To me, that's pretty remarkable. I feel like there are X amount of seats in that stadium, but yet so many people from around the world say they were there. Either they're lying or it's a pretty incredible thing. I would think that under the situation people would say, "I saw the final against Edberg." So many more people say, "I saw your Round of 16 match against Lendl," which is kind of odd for a Grand Slam tournament. You'd think, generally speaking, the final or semifinal gets more attention.
Q. Has anyone ever come up and said, "I saw your loss against Muster at the French"?
MICHAEL CHANG: Which loss was that?
Q. Didn't you lose to him in the final?
MICHAEL CHANG: Did I lose to Muster in the final?
GREG SHARKO: '95.
MICHAEL CHANG: I don't remember that one (laughter). Nobody does. Nobody does. That's one good thing, I tell you. When you're out there trying to strive to be the best you can be, and you go through difficult times and you go through times where you fail, you fall, you lose to players you wouldn't normally lose to, or you have a bad day, when your career is said and done, you know that, generally speaking, people remember you more for the times where you tried or the times where you were successful rather than your defeats, I think.
Q. The '99 French is about two and a half months away. Can you get yourself into contender shape again?
MICHAEL CHANG: Yes, I can. Yes, I will.
MICHAEL CHANG: Yes.
Q. With all the good clay-courters there are right now?
MICHAEL CHANG: Even with all the good clay-courters out there. I know what it takes to win. I know the effort and the work I need to put in. It hasn't changed. It's been refined a little bit, but there's no reason why I'm not able to go out there and be a contender for this year's French.
Q. Last year the good news was you were the last American out. If I have it right, you went to the third round. Do you think you can go further?
MICHAEL CHANG: Further than last year?
MICHAEL CHANG: Yes, for sure. I don't mean that in a cocky way or anything like that. It's something I honestly believe. Last year's French Open I was actually hampered pretty bad with my wrist injury. It really came from Rome. Last year was tough. This year has been tough so far. Somehow I've got to keep my head up and keep plucking away. I know that in time these things -- one day it's just going to click. It's going to be there.
Q. Any chance you'd give the USTA, which is meeting a couple hours from here, a March surprise and change your mind about Davis Cup?
MICHAEL CHANG: No. I know this tough situation that they're in. But I've made it clear to Gully, unfortunately my tennis is not where it needs to be. To play against Rusedski and Henman on an indoor fast surface, I don't think I can contribute as well as I normally could. I think you have a lot of other guys who are playing very well. I'm not at my best right now. Until I get there, then I'll consider playing Davis Cup and playing for my country because it is something that you take a lot of pride in what you do. You're not going to go out there and say, "I know my best tennis isn't there." You just don't do that. It's not something you mess around with.
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