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August 29, 1997

Michael Chang


Q. Michael, what happened that you lost first set?

MICHAEL CHANG: He played good tennis. You know, I think I had a couple chances actually in the first set, a couple games where I had breakpoints. I wasn't able to convert. You know, he made the most of his opportunities. I mean, he got one game where he got a couple breakpoints, converted on the second one. That was pretty much the first set. He came out firing away, you know, playing some pretty good tennis. It's nice to be able to start -- things started to settle down a little bit. Started to get used to his game a little bit. I think from there, things started to get a little bit better.

Q. Did it surprise you at all the way he came out?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, not really. I think normally, you know, when a youngster comes out and plays on such a famous court, in a sense, a lot of times either they come out so nervous that they start making errors all over the place, or sometimes they come out and they start firing away. I think today he definitely did the latter. He started serving pretty well. You know, definitely the adrenaline was going.

Q. From your standpoint, were you happy with the way you played?

MICHAEL CHANG: I felt like I played some pretty good tennis. You know, I feel like I can still aim to play better tennis. Hopefully, as the next ten days go on, hopefully it will continue to get better and better. But I'm excited. I'm excited about playing my next round. Eager to see whatever is planned for me. Looking forward to it.

Q. Were you happy with your serving?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think my percentage in the third set was -- actually in the fourth set was a little bit better than the rest of the match. I know I looked at the board at one point in the match, it was still a little below 50 percent. It definitely has to get better. I think if there's one part of my game that needs to improve, it's my service percentage. I can raise that easily if I pop my first serve in. But to be able to generate some pace and accuracy on it, maybe I'm not going to get as many in. That's something I do need to work on.

Q. Some people say that since you change the racquets, you increase the speed, but you decrease the percentage.

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah. But, see, for me, actually before I was using the racquet, my first serve was more or less kind of a second serve. I'm actually hitting my second serve probably as hard as I was hitting my first serve probably in '89. Sometimes I look at my serve back then. I'm thinking, "Wow, that was my serve." I was getting a good 75 percent in, 75, 80 percent in, just spinning my first serve in. If I got an ace, it was kind of like, "Wow, I got an ace." Things are changing a little bit. If I'm able to back it up with a big second serve, I'm not able to go for my first serve.

Q. When did you make your change?

MICHAEL CHANG: Actually, it was Carl's idea to initially try to use a longer racquet. He felt like I was playing a little bit at a disadvantage against some of the other players, mostly Agassi and Courier. Most of the guys hold it a little bit lower on the grip, on the serve, and on the groundstrokes. For some reason, for me, I've always held it a little bit higher than everyone else. Felt like I was losing a little bit of whip, power. Felt like if we could make the racquet a little bit longer, I would hold it the same way on the grip and stuff, that I'd be able to generate a little more power, a little bit more pace on my shot. From there, we pretty much sat down -- Carl sat down with Prince for a good 14, 17 months to try to work on this racquet. You know, put a lot of hard work into it to get it to where we wanted it to be. Found it really benefited me in the service department as far as pace, accuracy. You know, I was able to get the pace that I wanted on my groundstrokes.

Q. Did it affect the rest of your game at all?

MICHAEL CHANG: No. Actually, initially, when we tried to approach the new racquet, we tried to make it longer. I could serve, but I couldn't hit anything else. For me, doesn't make sense to make that kind of change. The backbone of my game is still my groundstrokes. I'm not going to give that up for anything. Doesn't make sense at this level. So they fiddled around a lot with the racquet and really took them quite a long time to, you know, mess around with the weights and the balances of the racquet to get it to where I was comfortable hitting the kind of groundstrokes I could hit, I could just go out and play.

Q. When did you start using this version?

MICHAEL CHANG: Beginning of '94.

Q. Do you feel like you lost a bit of touch, sense of the ball?

MICHAEL CHANG: No. Actually I don't, no.

Q. Some people say before you were better from groundstrokes than after.

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't think so. I feel like everything has gotten better. I feel like if I'm making progress, then it's a good thing. If I start playing tennis and guys are beating me and I'm not generating the same pace or I'm not having the same kind of accuracy, I think it would reflect in my results. Obviously then, I would think, players, we blame everything else, the racquets, blame everything else, so we would probably take a look at that. I've never had any problems with it. We made the change and we just stuck with it, been happy.

Q. Michael, the crowd tonight getting behind the underdog, did that bother you at all?

MICHAEL CHANG: No. Not at all. I figured it's typical of New York. I think it's great for Jeff to be able to have that kind of exposure, that kind of experience. I really feel like when I was young, although I still feel like I am young, it's a great opportunity. Even though he lost today, it's a great opportunity. Next time he gets out on that court, he's going to feel more and more comfortable. I'm sure he's going to continue to improve. Pretty soon he's going to be able to walk out there and not be in awe of any kind of situation.

End of FastScripts….

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