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August 12, 1998

Michael Chang


Q. How bad were you?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, it was getting pretty bad. I almost got an IV. Yeah, it was getting pretty bad. It's not the worst that I've had, but it was heading in that direction at one point. I think the doc had the IV ready but, you know, given a choice, I'd prefer to walk it off if I can deal with the pain. So you know, fortunately, it subsided after awhile.

Q. You said yesterday that you had -- that you hasn't prepared properly and you were definitely going to do that today. Did you do it and then it just still happened?

MICHAEL CHANG: I'm not sure. I'm thinking maybe something wasn't quite right today. I definitely prepared today a lot better than yesterday. I think maybe, you know, having a little bit of problems yesterday might have carried on over for today. That's really the only thing I can kind of think of. So you know, I don't feel like I'm really out of shape or anything like that because I've been working pretty hard on the physical aspect of things, maybe just carrying over from yesterday, that's really the only thing I can think of. So you know, probably have to look back and try to analyze things a little bit better because the Open's just an around the corner and it's going to be hot. And three out of five sets, I've got to be able to last one match with seven.

Q. How did it affect you today?

MICHAEL CHANG: It affected me a little bit toward the end of the match. I could feel -- you know I could feel myself cramping a little bit here and there. So by that time, we were both holding serve pretty good and just the one game that I lost, that was the turning point. I missed the overhead, which was a little bit lower than I would have liked and I just didn't quite judge -- didn't quite get underneath it. You'd think that if I'm one of the smaller guys on Tour I wouldn't have a problem, with a shorter lob, but today it was a little bit shorter than what I thought and it caught the tape.

Q. Why do you prefer to stay away from the IV? Did anyone advise that you it's not sound?

MICHAEL CHANG: No. The only reason that I stay away with the IV is that I know I've got to stay still. I know that I've got to lie down on the table, either that, or if I'm standing up, I'm not moving. The thing about cramps is they get worse if you don't move. If I went on the table, I know my whole body would just go and it would be really, really painful. The thing about having these problems is that it doesn't happen in one spot. It's not something -- where you have a leg cramp where -- at night, for example, you get in it in the calf and once you stretch out the calf, that's it. The tough thing about this is that when you have this condition, you have -- it's all over the place and it's just constantly shifting. So in that aspect, given a choice, I'd prefer not to do it.

Q. At your age -- and granted you're very young, but most players that are coming to the end of their contention for No. 1, you've had many injuries this year and now you've had these cramps. Are you concerned that maybe you've had your run at No. 1?

MICHAEL CHANG: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. I think this year has been, you know, definitely plagued with injuries. But I think to a certain extent, I know down the road when all of these things are taken care of, I know that -- I know my best years are still waiting for me. I have faith in that and faith in the Lord that better things are going to happen in the future. And I think that's important for me to have that perspective. You know, this year has been a little bit -- a little bit unfortunate. Things really started to get bad with the knee injury. But that was kind of a freak accident more than anything else. And the things that came after that with, the wrist just kind of a contributing factor from the knee. So it's been a tough year but -- but I'm a tough guy. It's something -- you have adversity. You have difficult times. You've got to perservere through them. You've got to stick with it. I'm not the type of person that's going to quit. And one thing I know is that God likes great finishes, and given a choice, I would prefer to end my -- end my career on a high note rather than a -- reach it early and then, you know, go-off-into-the-sunset type of thing.

Q. Some guys some have come in here this week and said that they can't catch Pete. But you're saying that you can.

MICHAEL CHANG: I know I can. I know I can. I think that for me, I know that when I'm able to go out and be a hundred percent healthy, I'm able to go out and play my best tennis. You know, if it's the Lord's will for me to win, it doesn't matter who I play. I'm able to go out and beat the best of them. I beat Pete earlier this year and that's a good confidence booster for the next time that we play. These are all guys that I've played numerous years. I've beaten all of them. So it doesn't make sense to have the mentality that you can't beat a certain player out there. I think particularly -- particularly beating Pete, because I grew up playing against him for so many years -- you know, really peers. And I think it's important to really have a good, positive perspective. So if you lose that, then for me, it doesn't make sense to continue to work hard and to continue to, you know, persevere through difficult times. But I'm not a quitter.

Q. (Inaudible) Is that just a reflection of the way you play the game?

MICHAEL CHANG: To a certain extent, yeah. But it's good for me, though. Because I think for certain aspects, it could be used as a training, you know, for bigger things, and as far as being able to fight through each point, I can be able to relate that to the other aspects of life or injury and being able to fight through that. And granted, it's a little bit different to a certain extent, but the philosophy I think is the same.

Q. Do you ever get discouraged?

MICHAEL CHANG: Absolutely. I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that I don't get angry. When things don't go right or when I have injuries like the once that I've had this year, I get frustrated. I get discouraged. I get angry. But I think when you're able to sit down and really focus on what's important and what you need to do to get that right perspective, and I know that I'm able to go out and bounce back and work at it.

Q. How did you feel today when you walked off the court, discouraged or --

MICHAEL CHANG: I actually wasn't too discouraged. I haven't been able to play all that much to a certain degree that I wanted to, just because I've had the wrist problem for the last three months. But to be honest with you, when I walked off the court today, with the cramps aside, I felt pretty good. My wrist didn't bother me today and that means we're doing something right. And first thing's first is getting healthy and I'm able to go out and compete with the Top 10 -- Top 10 guys and push them to the limit, then I know I'm not very far off in something. I know I have -- I need to continue to work at, knowing that my wrist is going to get better soon. And when it does, you know, when it does, I'm going to be up there ready to go.

Q. Do you think it will be harder to get back up where you were in the Top 5? Once you've fallen down, is it harder to get back up there?

MICHAEL CHANG: To be honest with you, I don't think it's all that -- it's definitely tough to get to the Top 5. You know, it's not something that anybody can do. But one thing that's been good for me is that I've had experience being there, not just being there once, but being there over quite a few -- quite a few years. And I know what it takes to get there. I feel like, you know, this year, my biggest -- my biggest opponent has been injury. I just have not been able to play very many tournaments at a hundred percent. You know, I've tried to play tournaments where I'm hurt and stuff like that because I feel it's important to still try to play out there. But to be quite honest with you, up to this point, it hasn't been -- it hasn't been a year that I can say Michael Chang's fully there.

Q. You said that you don't see the window closing on you at this age, and yet the history here in the sport that players peak about your age and go downhill. How much time is left where you'll be at the top of your game?

MICHAEL CHANG: See, the thing for me is I don't -- I don't go by history. I don't look at things in a way that is in comparison to -- to the normal tennis player, the average top, top tennis player who has accomplished a lot because my life is very unique and is very different. I think that you're able to see that in winning the French at 17, in my size, in my -- in being Asian. So there are a lot of different things about me and I think that to a certain extent, when you're trying to compare things, that's really the only thing that you can compare it to. But in reality, I know that -- that I'm different and that I'm unique. So in that aspect, I don't look at it that way. I know it in my heart that my best years are ahead of me. And you know, if I don't feel that, if I don't have the fire to work hard, then I would be able to tell you, okay, I'm approaching the end of my career. And I would be able to tell that you, you know, looking at you straight. But I know that's not the case.

Q. Any sense that you can play till 35 at a very high level or beyond that or --

MICHAEL CHANG: 35, I think that's something that I'm not quite sure, 35. The reason I say that is because I'm not sure I want to actually be playing tennis for that long. I'm 26 years old. That's nine years away. The reason I say that is that I know that somewhere in between there, hopefully, God has a wonderful wife planned for me and be able to raise my family and that's something that going to be way more important than tennis.

Q. I guess what I'm getting at is there's no age in your mind where you think: I can't compete at this level any more, that I have to do it by age 30 or age 32 or anything like that.

MICHAEL CHANG: No. I think that to a certain extent, sometimes I get that way. Sometimes I think: "Well, I've got to do it by this time, by this age; otherwise, my best years have passed me by." But I realize that in my career, you know, with the exception, you know, of the French -- kind of going up; my career has been a steady climb. I've gotten as high as No. 2. And this should have been a good year and I think it will definitely help me to grow and to, you know, make me stronger. It's going to make me a better man and I think all these things are going to come into play. And they are definitely going to help me quite a bit down the road.

Q. You're uniqueness, you said that you were Asian; that allows you to play longer. What did you mean by that?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, technically they do say that Asians mature a little bit later. Yeah, so I look like what, 22? (laughter). So to be totally honest with you, I think the age thing is way out of -- people talk about it and they say, "Oh, he's 30"; "I'm playing an old man". To be honest with you, 30 is young. Who are we kidding here? I don't quite understand that. People say, well, you're slower and you know, you're not as -- you're not as quick or you're not as this or not as strong or not as that. But 30, we're talking 30 years old. I mean, that's young.

Q. Michael, do you think it might have been skewed by the whole Becker thing?


Q. Two guys who were really at the top basically when they said, enough.

MICHAEL CHANG: I think that even if you look at their situation, I think that during the period of time, last few years for their career, their priorities shifted, you know, because of family, because of kids. If you look at the other guys, you know, who have accomplished great things, you know past their 30s -- Andres Gomez is a good example. The Tour was tough then but he was able to go out and still win a Grand Slam. So I think in certain aspects, maybe because Boris and Stefan were such great champions that they have kind of retired around the age of 30 that people start having the mentality that wow, these guys have won so many Grand Slam titles that at age 30 they are retiring. So maybe it's for me or something, that's the number. That's the age limit. But granted, the Tour is getting younger. But to be quite honest with you, I think that you know, a lot of things come into play as far as being a great champion. You know, I think a lot of it -- I think one of the key things is -- is a maturity and balance.

Q. Isn't Rafter the same age as you?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think it's six months younger.

Q. People are asking him when he's going to retire.

MICHAEL CHANG: But he hasn't been on tour as long as I have. So when people talk about me, people say, "Michael's been on the Tour for so long." Sometimes people maybe aren't quite totally in the tennis circle. I did this smash tennis one year. They asked the crowd, you know, "How old do you think Michael is"? And they pointed to like a Chinese girl, thinking okay, she's probably going to get it right. She says "30". I look at her like, come on, do I look that old? (laughter). So I told her: "I'm 25 years old." She's like, "Really"? So I don't know.

Q. But it seems like people look at him as sort of this rising young star, yet he won his first Slam last year.

MICHAEL CHANG: But how long has Pat been on Tour, five years? He's only six months younger than I am. This is my 11th year on tour.

Q. Is it harder to maintain your mental game at this point? Obviously, you've had a lot of injuries, but do you see any decline in concentration?

MICHAEL CHANG: No. To be honest with you, I don't because I enjoy competition so much. I think when you have the intensity out there, when you love the crowd; that they are able to -- to go wild and bring the atmosphere to a match, the mental -- the mental side is -- comes pretty -- pretty easy.

Q. You spoke about Boris and Stefan and their priorities changing, family, whatever. Do you think you would consider being married and still play?

MICHAEL CHANG: Oh, yeah. I think it would definitely be a little more difficult with kids. But I think for me, I would, you know, granted, given a choice, I would prefer for -- you know, when I get married to be able to have some time with my wife first and hopefully. I don't know when God has his timing and if God has someone picked for me, he hasn't revealed it to me who.

Q. You haven't found her yet?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't think so. It isn't something -- I would love for her to be able to travel with me all around the world, at least for a few years, or a couple years before the kid situation starts coming into play. So that would be ideal. But then again, you know, my life, sometimes things go ahead of schedule and sometimes they are a little bit behind schedule. But all in all, I know God's timing is perfect.

Q. What drives you with the desire to win another Grand Slam, is that what keeps you going?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think as far as the tennis aspect of things, I think that there are different things. Definitely because I know that this is my calling. I know this is where the Lord still wants me to be. In the tennis aspect of things, I have more challenges ahead much me. That's one thing that's always been very good for me. One of the things I've always enjoyed about tennis more than any of the other sports, besides being an individual sport there were challenges ahead of me, whether to win a certain tournament; beat a certain player or get a certain ranking, and these things still exist for me today. And technically speaking, I really only have four goals left: One is to become No. 1; one is to win Wimbledon; one is to win the Australian; and one is to win the U.S. Open.

Q. If you don't reach all of those goals, would you consider your career a failure?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't think I would consider my career a failure. I think if I knew in my heart I didn't give it my all, I would have regrets. But if I would have been able to walk away from the tour knowing I gave my all a hundred percent, that I did everything that I knew in my power to go out and try to accomplish those things, then I would be able to walk away, you know, from the tour and feel satisfied and say, that was my best.

Q. Jimmy Connors was playing a lot more than 30 years old. Does that give you any inspiration or anything?

MICHAEL CHANG: To a certain degree, but you know, everyone's different. And I think that to a certain extent, everyone's purposes are different, too. So I think Jimmy is enjoying himself, obviously, having a lot of fun on the Tour and stuff like that. But Jimmy is also a great businessman, to be honest with you. He knows.

Q. So you're actually encouraged by what happened today?

MICHAEL CHANG: I feel good. I feel good. I know I have some things to work on. I've got next week off. I have -- I've got the rest of the week to work on these things, hopefully to take care of these physical things. And one thing I know is that coming to the U.S. Open, I'm going to be fresh because I haven't played that much. And when you haven't played that much and when you see guys playing on the Tour, you're watching them on TV and you know that you should be there, it makes you unbelievably hungry to get out there, and not only compete with them but to go out there and beat them.

ATP TOUR REP: Thank you very much.

MICHAEL CHANG: You're welcome.

End of FastScripts....

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