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September 6, 1997

Michael Chang


Q. Michael, were you tired after playing two 5-set matches in a row?

MICHAEL CHANG: No. No. Physically I was okay out there.

Q. Mentally, though?

MICHAEL CHANG: Mentally I think I was okay. You know, I think that, you know, I was feeling pretty good out there. You know, it was just one of those tough days. Patrick played some great tennis today. You know, I think that I did actually have a few opportunities to get back in the match, get back into a couple of the sets. Just wasn't able to convert on some of those breakpoints. Obviously, if Patrick is serving the way that he is, it's important to be able to convert on a few of those.

Q. You talked the other night about how tense you had been that day. It almost sounded like you were surprised by it. Any of that before this match?

MICHAEL CHANG: No. Actually, I felt great. You know, I was very tense before the quarterfinal match. Once I stepped out on the court, I was feeling pretty good. I knew I had a lot of friends, a lot of family praying for me. Today I was fairly calm. I had a lot of peace out there. I was up and prepared to play.

Q. Michael, you made some big plays in the first game of the third set, almost like it was going to juice you up for that set. Yet Pat came back and held serve, little bit of a struggle in the second. How key was that second game where Pat had to come back from that difficult first game and hold serve?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think those are the opportunities that are missed. I had opportunities, you know, very similar to that to get up, or to break back. Just, you know, wasn't able -- wasn't able to connect on those. This level of play, you know, those crucial points can really make a huge difference.

Q. Patrick's form today, were you surprised at just how well he played? Did you think he had it in him?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I mean, I know Patrick's capability. I've played him many time before. I know obviously besides being a great tennis player, he's a great athlete. You know, I think that he was playing, you know, great tennis throughout the last couple weeks, and even before that, because I played him in the Hamlet and lost to him there. By all means, he's definitely, I feel, playing some of the best tennis of his life.

Q. Do you feel he's come of age?


Q. He just has done so well this year, compared to his previous form.

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think there's been a pretty big difference in his game, you know, over the past maybe six months or so. Because I played him in the Finals of Hong Kong and was able to beat him pretty comfortably there. So I'd say that, you know, he's definitely improved quite a bit. Either that or he's in a bit of a zone right now, in a sense. But, you know, he played some tough tennis today.

Q. Do you think he can go on to win?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think he has a great opportunity. I think for both players it is a great opportunity to win a wonderful tournament. I think obviously tomorrow you're going to be seeing a lot of big serves. Once again, I think it's going to come down to those break opportunities, who is able to make the most of them.

Q. Michael, what is it you need to go the extra mile to win another Grand Slam?

MICHAEL CHANG: I'm not sure right now, to be honest with you, I'm really not sure. You know, I feel like, you know, you go through periods of stages. Sometimes you think, "You need to be stronger, you need to work on some things." You know, I felt like I was able to do that. Once again, maybe run into that word perseverance. I have hope that perseverance will pay off one day. You know, it's been tough, you know. I think, you know, to be able to come out and say that it's not tough, I'd be kidding you. You have opportunities to win a Grand Slam. You have chances whether you're in the semifinals or Finals on a few occasions. It is frustrating, it's disappointing. But, you know, somehow you've got to bounce back. Somehow you've got to keep your head up and keep on working at it. Obviously, I think that this is something that, at least in my life -- am I babbling here (laughter)? Next question. I'll tell you my life story right here.

Q. Any loss is hard to take. But can you in any way compare this to your Slam final losses to Thomas and Boris and Pete? Is there any way you can compare them?

MICHAEL CHANG: It's hard to compare. It is hard to compare, because each one is different. All I can tell you is they all hurt. I think that you have opportunities. This one may be more of an opportunity than other chances when I was in the Finals. You know, it's tough to compare. Each one is a little bit different.

Q. Michael, it seemed today your return of serve wasn't what it usually is. You have a reputation of having a very good return of serve. In your view, is that a function of his very good serve or maybe a subpar return of serve performance by you?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, you know, I think definitely Patrick did serve quite well, you know, today. Did make things a little bit difficult. I don't know if I played a serve and volleyer. Have I played a serve and volleyer the last couple weeks? That might have hurt me a little bit. I know I definitely played a lot of baseliners, didn't see a whole lot of big serves. Even if I did see big serves, it's a little bit different when the guy is coming in. Might have hurt me a little bit. You know, you got to go out and make the best out of, you know, what you got. You know, today, you know, that's definitely one department where I could have hurt him a lot more, and wasn't able to do so.

Q. Is his athleticism, constant rushing what makes his serve better? He doesn't hit it obviously as hard as some guys.

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think it's tough to say. Because I think on the chances that I had, I wasn't even getting the serve back. You know, I think on my break opportunities, I don't think I got many serves back. That's a difficult thing. You know, if I get the serve back, then I know I have an opportunity of being able to hit a passing shot. I don't really feel like anyone volleys like a guy like Edberg, for example, in his prime. In that sense, I'm not really afraid of anyone's first volley. You have to give him credit. He served well and mixed things up quite well.

Q. Any thought to changing the way you were positioned for return of serve during the match?

MICHAEL CHANG: A little bit. In fact, I did change it up a little bit. I knew that he had a little bit of a pattern out there. I started to pick up on it a little bit. Still, you know, just wasn't able to get a clean hit. That was one aspect of today that was very frustrating. I knew in certain situations where he was going, and still wasn't able to get a good hit at it.

Q. Do you think you're going to look back on this tournament for the lost opportunity? Will that be foremost in your mind as you look back the next couple years?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, because I'll have good memories to take them away. I'm being positive here.

Q. Greg and Patrick, first Grand Slam Finals, why do you think there seem to be some people that haven't been here that are able to do well in Grand Slams this year? Seems like there's a pack right behind you and Pete?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think it's very fair to say. I think the French Open is another good example of that. Gustavo came from nowhere. He really didn't have all that great of a claycourt season. All of a sudden, he played some unbelievable tennis at the French. You know, I think this last couple weeks has been a little bit of the same case. I think Patrick has been playing well, but not to the point where, you know, people were saying, "He's not in the Top 5, but he's a heavy favorite going in." It's not like that. So I think part of it is the depth of men's tennis. Part of it is that, you know, for some reason, they're just able to really put things together quite well over these past two weeks.

Q. Do you think the depth is even better now than when you started out, and why do you think that is?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yes, I do believe so. I think that, you know, back then, in certain instances, you know, you have even top players who are able to get by the first few rounds a little more comfortably. Now players realize, first round, you've got to be up and ready to go.

Q. You didn't quite defend all your points here at the Open. You have relatively few points to defend the rest of the year. Pete has quite a number. Are you perhaps now thinking in a positive way, "I still have a chance to be No. 1 at the end of the year"? Is that important?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, I'm not really thinking about it, to be honest with you. You know, I think I have a little bit of time to digest this tournament before Davis Cup. I think at this point it's not something that's really on my mind.

Q. Is it important to you, Michael, No. 1?

MICHAEL CHANG: It is important. I mean, you know, it is important. I think that, you know, in certain aspects, I feel like I kind of agree with Stefan in a sense. He says that it is more difficult to become No. 1 than to win a Grand Slam. To become No. 1, you need to be consistent over a 52-week period. Quite honestly, I feel like I'm still pretty far away from that, so it's not something I need to concern myself with.

Q. First game, third set, first point, terrific point.

MICHAEL CHANG: Thank you (laughter).

Q. And you closed it out with another great shot on the overhead. You were really pumping and yelling. Was that trying to get yourself back in or did you feel at that point that maybe you --

MICHAEL CHANG: I had him at that point (laughter). Is that what you were going to say?

Q. No. Had you done whatever it is you needed to do?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think when you get to a stage where you're down two sets to Love, you need to find a way to get back. If you're able to, you know, play a great point, pump yourself up, stay positive, you know, you need to do something to change things up. You need to be positive. For me, that was a great opportunity. I had a good chance the next game to break; wasn't able to do it. You know, I know at that point I'm not out of it. I'm not out of the match. I'm not afraid to be able to fight my way, come back from two sets to Love down. I'm not afraid to stay out there. In that situation, you know, if I'm able to gain a little bit more adrenaline, some of my shots get a little more pumped up, maybe he gets a little dejected, maybe the crowd starts getting behind me a little bit more, you know, things can change. You know, didn't quite happen today. I think in those circumstances, you know, you do what you need to do.

Q. Did you actually replay the last two matches you had, the five-setters at that point? Were you saying, like you said, "Can you stay out here"? Did you sort of in your mind think, "Well, I've done it before, I'm going to do it again right now"?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think I was very positive. I knew two sets to Love down, I felt like, you know, it would be tough, but it's not impossible. I feel like with God, anything's possible. Patrick knows that. He knows that I'm not going to give anything to him. Just doesn't make sense. Semifinals of the US Open, doesn't matter in any case. Why give up? Why give the people the satisfaction of just giving a match to them? That brings me no satisfaction walking off that court. So, yeah.

Q. Were you surprised by how well he played from the baseline?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't think that's something that really bothered me today. I felt like I was comfortable with him playing from the back. That's not an aspect that I felt like he hurt me with today. I think it was more, you know, serve and volley.

Q. With his instincts around the net, his athletic ability, is he the toughest guy to pass on The Tour?

MICHAEL CHANG: Now that Stefan is gone?

Q. Now that Stefan is gone.

MICHAEL CHANG: The Woodies are pretty tough (laughter).

Q. Not both at the same time. We're just talking about one guy.

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, he's one of the toughest. He's one of the toughest. I think the toughest that I faced has always been Stefan.

Q. Michael, was there any buzz in the locker room with Pete losing early, Becker not in the Open this year, that this might be different?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't know. I wasn't in the locker room when Pete lost.

Q. I mean, in general, through the tournament. Going in with the two big --

MICHAEL CHANG: No, no. I think that the players felt like they just went about their own business. They know it's part of a Grand Slam. They know sometimes top players go down early. They've been in that kind of situation before. It's not new for them for Pete to lose early. Obviously, they probably talked about it for a day or two, but then they go about their business, trying to concentrate on what they need to concentrate on.

Q. It looked like you were yelling something. What were you yelling during that emotional moment? What were the words? I couldn't read your lips.

MICHAEL CHANG: Let's see. Do you want me to replay it for you right here?

Q. What was it?

MICHAEL CHANG: Just getting pumped up, you know. A lot of times, you know, you say, "Come on," stuff like that. A lot of times actually I praise the Lord in Chinese.

Q. Is that what you were doing at that moment?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, actually at the end. Couldn't read my lips there (laughter)? A lot of times I go out and I do that, so.

Q. How does this set up for the US, Australian Davis Cup?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think it makes it a lot more interesting. It was already interesting. This makes it even more interesting. You know, I think particularly if Patrick wins tomorrow.

Q. How would you assess your year?

MICHAEL CHANG: Year's not over yet. I feel like it's been a good year. Hopefully, you know, things will continue to get better for me. You know, once again -- actually, this December, November, we have a little bit more time to train and prepare for the upcoming year, which is a little bit nice. Normally, I'd only get maybe three or four weeks off. This year probably I have somewhere around six weeks off, which will be nice. Hopefully I'll put that to good use and come back in '98 a better player.

Q. Michael, does Davis Cup become more significant for you because of the results here?

MICHAEL CHANG: It's always been significant. You know, it doesn't make it any more significant. If I were to be able to win both matches, it would make things a little bit sweeter. It was already very significant.

Q. Michael, talking about the depth of the men's draw, there have been so many upsets of top players this year, is it really still an upset or is the men's draw so competitive that when we see a No. 13 or whatever beat a No. 2, is that really an upset anymore?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think that it still is an upset. I think that, you know, you have times where you realize that the guys have the capability of knocking off top players. When it comes down to it, I think when you see an unseeded player beat a seeded player, it's still an upset.

Q. Can you be an analyst for just a second? Who is the better returner of serve, Patrick Rafter or Greg Rusedski?

MICHAEL CHANG: If someone is serve and volleying or if someone is staying back?

Q. Just looking at the Final coming up tomorrow, knowing how they're playing.

MICHAEL CHANG: Tough call. That's a tough call. You're probably thinking to yourself tough call, right? That's why it's going to be a good match tomorrow.

Q. Michael, is it your hope that this men's draw offers sort of a refreshing boost to have the publicity about men's tennis - it's been such a wild Open with so many players coming forward - do you think the public tends to be stuck, they want to see Sampras, they want to see all the high seeds?

MICHAEL CHANG: I was hoping I would be the refreshing part (laughter). Chang finally breaks through after nine-year drought. I think it is great for tennis, you know. Even though I lost today, it is great to see fresh faces. It's always great. I think, you know, you can give an example of Tiger Woods in many instances, be able to bring something special to the game of golf. Obviously, you have two unique, very different individuals in the Finals tomorrow. I think you have some fresh faces, a lot of fresh talent. In a sense, there is a bit of a changing of the guard the past couple years, with Boris retiring and Michael Stich retiring, Stefan Edberg retiring. The game is changing right now. I think people become more and more familiar with these players. Tennis can only become more and more popular in the world.

Q. What did the trainer treat you for after the second set? Can you pick a winner tomorrow?

MICHAEL CHANG: He just gave me some extra tape for some blisters. I really don't want to pick a winner. It's something that I think is too difficult to call. Both are playing well. I think it's going to come down to a matter of who is able to win the big points, the breakpoints, points like that. I really think so. You're not going to see a whole lot of services broken tomorrow. The few that do get broken, it's going to make a huge difference.

Q. Earlier you said you weren't sure exactly what it might take to get the next Grand Slam. Does something like this make you think of something radically different from what you've been doing? Is this the kind of thing that you considered some ideas you've rejected before, or is it, "What I've done has gotten me this far"?

MICHAEL CHANG: No. I feel like I'm making progress in the right direction. I feel like I'm making progress. I feel like as long as I'm able to do that and honestly look at my game and see that I'm improving, then I'm willing to stick with it. I don't need to make any drastic change in my game or in my training methods, I don't think. You know, I feel like when you get this close, you just wait and be patient. Hopefully, that opportunity will come.

Q. Do you have the feeling that you're a much better player than the guy who won the French in 1989? Is that the frustration?

MICHAEL CHANG: I am. I know in my heart I'm a better player than I was in '89. I think what's frustrating probably is not that I won in '89. That's a very good point. But I think what's been frustrating is that you get close time and time again. It's almost like if somebody's teasing you with something, giving you a piece of candy. You go like this (indicating). They take it away. It's one of those things. I feel like, once again, if there's a word to characterize my career and my life, it's perseverance. I'm not one to quit. I'll continue to work at it. You have to have heartbreaks, times where you fail. You have to pick yourself back up and try, try again.

Q. When you look back at your French Open victory, can you point to something that not made it special but that put you over the top, considering the frustrations that you've had at winning another Grand Slam since then?

MICHAEL CHANG: I'm sorry. I didn't understand the question.

Q. Was there anything special that happened then, that you felt you were playing a certain way, a certain type of game then that enabled you to succeed as opposed to the power game today?

MICHAEL CHANG: No. I really feel like those two weeks --

Q. Do you remember them clearly?

MICHAEL CHANG: I do. Pretty vivid. I feel like those two weeks, God just blessed everything, I mean everything. The way everything went, I always tell people, in many instances it was a fairytale. A 17 year old who comes into the French Open, down two sets to Love to the No. 1 player in the world, comes back, cramping. It's a fairytale. I feel like, with God, there was a purpose for it. The situation in Tienamen Square was going on. Very down time for Chinese people. I still feel in my heart, I tell people, I feel like God wanted me to win that event because of that. It was just one of those situations, one of those tournaments, one of those times where I personally can look back and say God's hand was on it.

End of FastScripts….

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