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August 7, 1997

Michael Chang


Q. Michael, you feel like you are battling every match?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I don't feel like I am. I know I am. I think that last couple of matches I have definitely been tough. Then again, I don't think I have ever had any real easy matches here. I think that goes with, you know, playing in Cincinnati, playing an event like this, you know, the field is so tough that you can't expect easy matches. Very seldom DO you get them. So, I think that -- I mentioned yesterday, I thought it was, you know, pretty tough to have to play like Ferreira in the second round of any event just because Wayne has been in the Top-10 before and you know how dangerous a lot of these guys are, as well as Andrei.

Q. How do you feel about tomorrow tonight?

MICHAEL CHANG: I am excited about it. I think that when we played last week in Montreal it really wasn't much of a match. Hopefully it would be nice to be able to turn things around tomorrow. I think that Gustavo is definitely playing some very tough tennis. I am excited about it. I am definitely really looking forward to it.

Q. What went on last week in that match?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, it is a little bit difficult to say. Gustavo was playing some good tennis. He was serving well. He was hitting the ball pretty clean and I think, for me, for some reason, wasn't able to really, you know, get things going the way that I wanted to. And, the combination just killed me. And, the match was fairly quick, I mean, if you were to include the rain delay. Really not a match that I really want to remember. But, hopefully we will take that match and learn something and apply it to tomorrow.

Q. When you have a match like that, is it a situation where a few days later you get a chance to --

MICHAEL CHANG: I think it is always great to be able to play a guy whom you have lost to in the past. It doesn't matter. I think the players always remember -- they all remember who they lose to, whether it was last week; whether it was a couple of years ago; whether it was five years ago, you always remember the last meeting that you guys played. Particularly, if you lost, it is always kind of there. And, there is always that bit of urgency to be able to get another shot and be able to turn things around again. That is the nice thing about tennis is, generally speaking, you are going to have opportunities to be able to play that person again.

Q. Back to tonight's match, do you feel that Andrei -- sometimes he is virtually unplayable?

MICHAEL CHANG: I tell you Andrei, when everything is working for him, he is a very dangerous player. I mean, everybody will tell you that. He is definitely a shot-maker. He will go for his shots. He will, you know, if he is making everything, he is tough. But, normally, you are able to -- you know he is going to hit great shots. If he hits a great shot you just move on to the next one, that is part of his game. And, he is going to make some errors too because he goes for the shot -- goes for winners. So, you know, for me, it is important to try to play consistent, you know, aggressive tennis against him and try to keep him a little off balance as best I can. Obviously, if he is hitting the ball clean, it makes it difficult to do. But, you know, so that is something that I try to do, you know, against him, try to take it to him, so that he doesn't have those opportunities to go for winners, which he likes to do.

Q. Did he come out -- did you just start a bit slow or --

MICHAEL CHANG: First game I was slow. Couple of points there that, you know, I just wasn't there. But he started off hitting the ball pretty clean. I think that, you know, definitely he played, you know, tough tennis in the first set. Second set he seemed to waiver a little bit and then, you know, third set I was able to kind of keep that momentum from the second set. Then he started to fight back, and really those couple doublefaults in the last game were pretty crucial points considering that, you know, he had that point and from 5-All it is pretty much anyone's ballgame.

Q. Back to Gustavo, how much is his success the physical game and how much of it is coming off sort of the roll that he is on the mental, the whole confidence factor?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think whenever you win a Grand Slam title you always have -- your confidence really takes off. You are pretty much -- you are at another level and I think that is fair to say for Gustavo and it shows in the way he plays. And, you know, I think that is something that is a great confidence booster for him. Obviously the guys that he beat in the French Open, they are know slouches. Between them, I don't know how many French Open titles that they have, but when you are able to go through and win a Grand Slam and beat those players it is a great confidence booster and it is going to give you confidence going into other tournaments and other top players.

Q. He is a little older than you were when you won yours. Can you sort of relate, though, kind of like things don't seem to rattle him. He just seems to us just sort of roll along; not thinking about what is happening?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think that kind of goes with the surfer attitude, I think. I grew up a part of the time in San Diego and I knew that the surfers in school. They were pretty kickback and they were kind of hanging about going like that a lot and surfing before class, just really kicked back, laid back, kind of like, well whatever-happens-happens type of attitude. In a sense it is kind of good because if you are able to relax when the pressure is on, it is going to help you.

Q. But you were not like that, you sort of realized what it all meant and --

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, no, I was a little bit different. I don't know whether -- yeah, I think that for me the next bit of time after that was something of a learning experience because the French Open was only my second career title and after that people were expecting me to win every other title. They were just basically shoving it in my ear to the point where I started to think I should win every other title. And, being 17 years old, you know, in that position I was not ready for that. So even if I wouldn't have had a good tournament, say, I got to the quarterfinals of the events, I would say, oh, that was a terrible tournament and stuff, when it really wasn't. In a sense, for me, you get a lot of outside pressures, but what really comes down to it is how much pressure you put on yourself. If you are able to have a good balance, be able to handle, you know, the outside things, and still be able to analyze things and have a straight head about it, then you are going to know how much pressure you need to put on yourself and I think for me was the year following that, following the French Open was really something that will really stay with me for the rest of my life, rest of my career because even though it was a difficult time in certain instances - I fractured my hip at the end of the year - just I learned a lot. And I felt like during that year I really grew in character and maturity. It has helped me to be able to deal with the pressure and have a balanced life.

Q. Do you think that the reason you got so much pressure was because you were American and that whole thing and the heat from Brazil they don't even know from tennis, soccer is -- they are just happy with (inaudible) --

MICHAEL CHANG: I think that is partly true. Because at the time in 1988, you know, I first came out on Tour, rookie year, a lot of people like couple years before were saying American tennis is down, there is no future talent coming up and then, boom, all of a sudden Andre has a great year in 1988; I get to win a Grand Slam in 1989. Pete wins his Grand Slam in 1990 and all of a sudden things start taking offer and then all of a sudden nobody talks about it anymore because you have got such a great young crop of American players coming out, not only playing well, but really making their mark. And, so I think, you know, in a sense maybe that was part of it. But, you know, I wouldn't change anything. Even though sometimes were hard, I wouldn't change anything. I don't know too many, to be honest with you, because we are so busy on the regular Tour. I only know the players who are just coming on Tour, you know, Gimelstob, you know, the Bryan (ph) twins, just the kids that come out and play some of the pro events, but other than that, I haven't really been able to keep track of who is coming up. So, I don't know. Maybe Gully would know better.

Q. You look at it --

MICHAEL CHANG: I always try to take note of up-and-coming players because I have said over the past three years or so I have seen more new faces than ever since I have been on Tour. I go and ask people who is that player. I have to ask sometimes who I am playing, righty or lefty, you know, I just have to find out new information so basically I am taking a look at some of the draws in other places, if I see a new name, you know, start finding out some information and most of the time it is a young guy. It is a guy who is coming up on Tour, making his mark, and you take note of it whether they are from the United States, whether they are from, you know, other countries just because you want to be aware of what is going on.

Q. Had you taken note of Gustavo at a certain point, I mean, before the French or whatever?

MICHAEL CHANG: A little bit. A little bit. Actually, I first heard of him last year after the U.S. Open because I went down to South America to play a few exhibitions for Reebok, actually, with Todd Martin, and we went down to Brazil to play against Meligeni and Gustavo. So that was the first time that I was familiar with him and then, you know, he started to have some good results early in the year. He beat Andre in Memphis. So from there, started taking a little bit of note, but I think the French Open was something of a bit of surprise because during the whole clay court season he really didn't do much. Didn't have great results and all of a sudden the French Open came along and he was playing unbelievable tennis. Put two weeks together and, bang, his first Grand Slam title. So, yeah, so, other than those things I really don't know a whole lot of other results about him.

Q. On the court can you tell -- do you feel that he is maybe a little bit more concentrating --


Q. -- Than sort of the image he is giving off the court?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, for sure. But I think that is pretty characteristic of a lot of players, actually. Actually, a good example of that would be Lendl. I think Lendl was a player who was very misunderstood because when he was on the court he was very intense, very serious, and, you know, just very, you know, ritualistic about a lot of things, ultimate professional. But off the court he is very different. He is relaxed, he is cracking jokes all the time, talking with a lot of people and stuff, just very different, so....

Q. I guess the question is the media getting the right image of Gustavo so far, just that sort of this laid back kind of guy?

MICHAEL CHANG: Pretty laid back as far as I know.

Q. Any tidbits that you can give us?

MICHAEL CHANG: Shooting baskets in the locker room.

Q. Have you played with him?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, he made one I told him he was lucky and then he made another one.

Q. Maybe he is going to the NBA.

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't know. He seems pretty laid back, though. Yeah, that is my impression of him. I think that most other guys would probably agree.

Q. Surfing when you were down there?

MICHAEL CHANG: Fortunately not. I am not much of a surfer and top of that not much of a great swimmer her, so a combination of those -- worrying about shuffling my feet to not step on a stingray. But I have actually gone boogey-boarding and stuff, but in the ocean it is not all that fun sometimes. I have had a couple of instances where -- I only boogey-board in the whitewash and sometimes if you don't keep your board up and it digs in the stand, it goes, whoosh, it goes right in your gut. Then sometimes also if you get caught in one of -- in the waves, it takes you down and literally you are like turning underneath the water, and you have absolutely no control until the wave likes start to give. And it is not a great feeling. You come up, you can like (takes a deep breath). It is a helpless feeling. And you just drink a ton of water. Yeah, but -- that was my experience plus I get seasick. I am a fresh water person. I am a fisherman, fresh water fisherman preferably.

Q. Andrei seemed to lose his cool towards the end after a few close calls. I noticed you didn't seem to lose your cool during the match even when the calls were questionable. How do you keep your focus point to point to point?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, you know, you almost feel like you are going to have times where calls go for you, calls go against you. Generally speaking, for me, I try not to -- I try to maybe make my point and then go on because if time elapses he is not going to change the call so you try to take it and try to move on as best as you possibly can. And, you know, you hope that all and all it kind of evens out in the end. But, it is just kind of comes with playing our sport. You are going to have some calls where you think go against you and some calls where you think go for you. But, that is part of your game. And, at least, for me, I try not to let it get to me to the point where it starts affecting, you know, your points after, because if you start doing that, then you are going to start to give away points and that is not something that I like to do. Andrei has always been a dangerous player. I mean, he has always been a dangerous player. Yeah. I mean, that hasn't changed since the first time he came on Tour he really, boom, he made his mark. He really didn't kind of gradually come up to the top. He was -- he just went, boom, right there. And, you know, ever since he has always been a dangerous player and I am sure that, you know, he is going to continue to improve and really only get better.

End of FastScripts….

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