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September 2, 1997

Michael Chang


Q. Can you describe the fatigue of that match and what is going through your head?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think Cedric was a little bit more tired than I was. I was feeling okay. I think that it looked like he was starting to cramp a little bit at the end there. He was shaking his leg a little bit and I could tell that he was trying to shorten up the points a little bit. And from there, I think -- it is tough to play back-to-back five setters, so I think it probably took its toll.

Q. Do you get a sense when you have a guy going to a fifth set that there is a feeling of okay, this is my time, fifth set --

MICHAEL CHANG: No. Absolutely not. I feel like the fifth set is definitely, you know, tough situation for both players. And, you almost feel like physical conditioning is going to come into play a little bit. And today, I think it did a little bit. I think that -- I don't go out there with that kind of mentality. Each match is a new match and each match is different. So, when you are in the fifth set you want to try and go out and give whatever you have left. Try to pull it out.

Q. Is there a sense of will in the fifth set of a match like that, that says, "I will not break first"?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah. I mean, that is a possibility. But then again, if your body says, "Well, I have had enough," then you have no choice.

Q. You are not listening to your body, maybe?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah. But if your legs cramp up, like Shuzo did a few years back, then you have got to listen to your body. I think that's pretty wise to say in all situations. I think that is why doctors make the worst patients, because they don't listen to their own bodies. But granted, it is a little bit of will out there. When you are out there, you try not to think about being tired. You try not to think about just anything that has to do with, you know, physical aspect of the game.

Q. Many players talk about their confidence in various aspects of their game, and you said conditioning sometimes plays a part late in a match like that. How confident are you in your conditioning and have you ever felt in a match your conditioning was not superior?

MICHAEL CHANG: I have had many times where I knew that conditioning -- I fell a little bit short. I knew that the guy was stronger or sometimes maybe before the match, maybe I am a little bit stronger. But maybe I did a lot more running during the match than he did. So, I have had many situations like that and I think all players have times where they walk off the court they say "I knew I just didn't have as much as he did left." Not enough gas in the tank. And, you know, that is just part of tennis. You hope that you do have a little bit more. You hope that you are able to fight a little bit harder than your opponents. But, granted, it is not always the case.

Q. Do you usually feel as though you have more, do you feel that you have more usually and did you feel that way today?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think it depends on the situation. I felt like I had a little bit more today than Cedric. I felt like he was getting a little bit tired and making a few more errors were starting to creep into his game. He was starting to shorten up the point a little bit. I could see he was cramping up a little bit. He was shaking his leg.

Q. Is there a point where you say "I am tired, but this is the US Open," and you find another kick in the pants, another gallon in the tank that you didn't think was there?

MICHAEL CHANG: There are times when you have that, for sure. I think that when you have, you try to look for reserves and there aren't a whole lot left, and sometimes you just have to put it aside as best you can and give whatever you have.

Q. Because it is the US Open?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think because it is such an important tournament. I think that nobody ever wants to be in a situation where they give a match to anybody. I think a good example actually is my match against Lendl in '89. There are times where I thought about just giving up and just saying, "Okay. Well, I have had enough and I can't go on." But, you know, I think in that kind of situation, came back from two sets and you just feel bad to just give him the match. You fight your way back, you are in the fifth set, and you know that the fifth set, hopefully, it is not going to be any longer than an hour. You say, "Well, I have to give whatever I have left." I think it is always nice to be able to, you know, walk off a court and just say that you gave your best.

Q. The five-setter has become your trademark or are you at all proud that the five-setter has sort of become a trademark of yours?

MICHAEL CHANG: No. I think that I have lost plenty of five-set matches. It is not like I never lose five-set matches. I lost one earlier this year at Wimbledon, which was a bit of a heartbreak, but it is part of tennis. I think that you never want to be in that kind of situation, but obviously if you are forced to, you get in that situation you try to make the best of.

Q. Down 5-2 in the fourth set. How concerned were you at that point?

MICHAEL CHANG: It was funny because after 5-2, I started to kind of relax a little bit. Strangely it is, you know, and I just started to think to myself, "Okay. Well, you know, you are down, no matter what, you know, stay in control." I actually started to go out and think a lot of humble thoughts and for some reason the whole match just really turned around. I was able to get that break back and I was able to break him again, and I think I won like the next seven games. So, you know, just for some reason from that point on, the whole match -- the tempo and everything just really changed.

Q. Did Pete's loss at all maybe put extra pressure on you because all of a sudden you were the highest seed left? What did that do to you?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think that I have to go out here and realize that, you know, people are going to talk about who is favorite and who is not favorite. I think that for me, you know, this is something that, you know, in a sense it is kind of unimportant for me. Because I have a job to do and I have got to realize that every match is tough. I was explaining earlier to Pat that you can go into a match thinking, "Well, I have never lost a set here. Why should I go and lose this match." And, you just can't have any kind of attitude like that. I mean, the guys are so tough nowadays. The depth of men's tennis is so great that you cannot take anybody lightly. You can't take anybody for granted. And, guys don't get to the round of 16. They don't get to the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam event by just playing mediocre tennis.

Q. What did you think when Pete went out? What is in your head when he gets beat?

MICHAEL CHANG: Pete is out.

Q. Were you surprised?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think everybody was a bit surprised. I knew that Korda had given him some trouble in the past, so I thought it would be a good match. They had a great match at the Grand Slam Cup a few years ago and Korda came pretty close to beating him at Wimbledon.

Q. Don't you relate it to yourself at all?

MICHAEL CHANG: No. Not a whole lot. No. Not a whole lot, because I try not to look too far ahead in the draw. That is another danger, I think.

Q. How do you feel about the statement McEnroe made saying: "Michael Chang, this is the opportunity of a life time?"

MICHAEL CHANG: You mean saliva coming out of my mouth? It is funny because when he said that everyone looked at my mouth. You know, I think it is. You know, I think it is a great opportunity. I have had a lot of great opportunities to win the US Open and have come up a little bit short. Hopefully this is another good opportunity for me. And, I like to be able to definitely take advantage of it. It is not going to be easy because winning a Grand Slam is never easy. But, you know, you hope that one day things will go your way.

Q. How would you describe Rios and the task immediately at hand for you?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, Marcelo is playing some tough tennis. I have been watching him a little bit over the week. He handled Sergi pretty well today. He is a very talented player and I have had a lot of tough matches with Marcelo, including this year at the Australian Open. So, it is not going to be easy. It is going to be another tough match and -- but I am looking forward to it. I am excited about it.

Q. Can you compare your styles?

MICHAEL CHANG: We actually play a little bit similar. He does take the ball early and, you know, he definitely can hit some great shots. He is very talented. People have been saying that, you know, in a sense that he is the "Chilean Andre." So, I think that that, in many ways, is fair to say that.

Q. I have never seen more people eager to speak to you, Michael. It is great. I am wondering if you have ever committed 65 unforced errors in a match before? It is not characteristic of you at all.

MICHAEL CHANG: I would be lying if I told you that I didn't. But, I have. I have had -- I probably -- I don't know if I have ever -- what was my service percentage today?

Q. 43.

MICHAEL CHANG: You are kidding.

Q. You don't want to see the stats?

MICHAEL CHANG: It was that high? I thought it would be a lot lower. I think that -- I am wondering how many of those were in the second set. I think that from 5-2, actually I started to probably played the best tennis of the match. I don't think I made a whole lot of errors. And, yeah, that is not a good stat for me. Don't bring those things up next time. (Laughter.)

Q. Michael, is there something about this new arena? We are having all these upsets, top seeds that seem to have an edge in the Armstrong Stadium. They are out. Pete was out yesterday and Monica is out today and you were on the ropes there. Is there anything about the new arena that you might comment on in that respect?

MICHAEL CHANG: Funny you mentioned I was on the ropes. I thought I was being counted out already. I don't know. I think the matches that I have seen, the players that I have seen get upset, I mean, they have lost to tough players. They lost to players who had been playing well. Today Rios played some great tennis. Spirlea played some unbelievable tennis, Korda yesterday played some great tennis. It is not like that I can recall, you know, guys people playing -- seeded players are playing bad or poorly. Just on that particular day, they just weren't the better player.

Q. When you were serving 5-3 in the fourth, were you aware of his reputation of a player who has trouble finishing matches when he is ahead, did it come to your mind?

MICHAEL CHANG: A little bit. A little bit. I think that for me being in that situation you try to find anything positive. And, for me, I felt like, you know, -- well, I just try to think of things that were positive. If I knew that maybe he would get a little bit -- you always hope that -- hope that players get a little bit tight. And I don't think that that he really got that tight. I think that Cedric played a tough match. It was a very close match and, you know, just one of those things where he wasn't able to close the match out. But, at the same time, in the third set I was serving at 5-4 in the same situation and wasn't able to close it out. Cedric came back and won that set 7-five, so, --

Q. Correct me if this impression is wrong and if it is correct maybe you can explain why. It always seems that you have a real deep understanding of how long a match is and how it is a five set match and a player can come back from two sets down and that has often been your history with your conditioning. If that is the case, how have you developed that understanding in your career for appreciating how long it can go and how momentum can turn?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't think that you necessarily, you know, calculate how long a match can go or how long you can last out there. I think for me it is more, you know, being out there and thinking okay, well the guys got to win three sets to win. If he wins the first two sets, this match isn't over yet. And I have got to give myself the hope and opportunity of being able to come back, whether you are down, whether you are up, I think that you never know. You just never know when things can turnaround. I never measure a match that way. I never try to calculate things, you know, that specifically. Just trying to go out there and just trying to fight my way through, whatever it takes, whether I am up or whether I am down.

Q. We all know how Pete is obsessed with the Grand Slams and says that is what he considers is a successful year in how he does. Would you trade your five titles you have won this year if you could win this title here? How do you rate the Grand Slams as compared to the rest of the year?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think Grand Slams are, you know, definitely very important. I think to be honest with you, I feel like -- I look at things a little bit differently. I feel God has his purpose for everybody. To be honest with you, I probably wouldn't trade my five titles this year for the Grand Slam. It would be nice to be able to add the Grand Slam to my five titles, but, I just feel like -- I just feel like that there is a purpose for everything. People talk about, you know, I think there was - I forgot who said it - they would trade all the other titles for -- I think it was Lendl. Was it Lendl saying he would trade all his title for Wimbledon or something like that?

Q. Yeah.

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, so, I don't know, I feel like, you know, with tennis, you know, my top priority is not to go out and to win Grand Slams and stuff. I feel like I have a higher calling in tennis and obviously it is nice to be able to win Grand Slams. There is no question about that.

Q. Richard Krajicek once at Wimbledon spoke about women's tennis not being in good shape. Now I hear you speaking about Spirlea; that you really thought she was playing a terrific match. Does this mean that in contradiction to other male players you are really watching the female tennis?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think when there is a great match on, I think all players are interested. I mean, if a situation -- I will give you an example: Today's match in the second set tiebreaker, you know, maybe guys won't mention it in the locker room, but, sure, they were watching the match between Seles and Spirlea because it is a good match. It is match where they are making a lot of errors regardless of whether it is a men's match or female's match, guys will say see who else is going on; see how the football is going, stuff like that. I love tennis. I have seen a lot of great women's matches. I don't know if Richard feels that way now. But, for me, when it is a great tennis match, you take advantage of it. It is nice to be a part of.

Q. As an American and having gone to the Finals here last year, does this tournament not have some separate category inside you as a place in your career?

MICHAEL CHANG: It does, actually. I tell people that, you know, given a choice actually of winning the -- which Grand Slam I would prefer to win, I always tell them Wimbledon because it's a surface that people don't think I can win on. But given a choice of Grand Slam that I think is the most special Grand Slam that I enjoy the most, it is always the US Open.

End of FastScripts….

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