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August 6, 1997
JOE LYNCH: Michael Chang has been in the last 4 Finals here at the
Great American Insurance ATP Championships, took the first step in that direction today
beating Wayne Ferreira in three sets.
Q. So he should know all of us by first name.
JOE LYNCH: I would think. First question.
Q. You are down 1-6 in the tiebreaker and you battle like a bulldog. You didn't give up
at that point. You almost got back to 6-6, didn't you --
MICHAEL CHANG: Almost, actually. I was hoping I would be able to kind of sink my way
back in there. You never know when things can happen. You never know when you are able to
turn things around and sometimes you are and sometimes you aren't. But, I feel at that
stage it is such an important part of the set, that, you know, you can't just let it go.
So you never know, sometimes when you might get just a string of shots together and you
never know when things can turn around.
Q. You see other guys, though, give up at 1-6, I assume. What do you think when you see
MICHAEL CHANG: If it is against me, it is okay. I don't mind. If you can recall McEnroe
maybe a couple of years ago watching a match between Krajicek and Siemerink out of Court
16 at the U.S. Open. Krajicek was up 6-Love in the tiebreaker and I believe John said if
Siemerink comes back I am going to stand on my head. And, he ended up coming back. And
that was probably one of the highlights of U.S. Open that year to see John McEnroe stand
on his Head.
Q. Did he do it?
MICHAEL CHANG: He did actually, he did. So, yeah, you never know. You never know.
Q. Then he aced you at 6-4, he was serving at 6-4 aced you. You stood there for a long
time looking at it. You had trouble with that same line. What happened on that? We never
saw the reply.
MICHAEL CHANG: Obviously it is a matter of opinion. I thought maybe -- well, I mean,
you are going to have calls go for you and against you. I guess all and all, when it comes
down to it, at the end of your career, it all kind of evens out, you hope. But, it is
nothing that you can do. If you see the ball differently than the linesman - and I don't
know I don't expect the chair umpire to overall on the far line like that - so....
Q. It wasn't just like a punch to the stomach, that ball was in your eyes just like
MICHAEL CHANG: Well, yeah, but in my eyes, you know, so like I said you are going to
have some that go for you and some that go against you. You try to take it in stride and,
you know, you try to take it and move on; try not to let it bother you as much as you can.
But, who knows. It might have caught, so I might have been wrong, but as tennis players we
are kind of like, well, it is always tennis to be a little bit more biased towards your
own opinion, but -- yeah, so....
Q. Seems like every year some prominent player comes in here who is riding a bad streak
or trying to bring his game back, or focus. And, you have remained remarkably consistent.
MICHAEL CHANG: You are not trying to jinx me, are you?
Q. No. Why are you able to make tennis as big a priority and to play at a high level?
MICHAEL CHANG: You know, I really don't know. I feel like I think for one, when you
enjoy coming to a place you tend to do well. You tend to do better. You feel good about
where you are. You have fond memories of being here. You enjoy the surroundings and the
people. That just makes it easier. My philosophy hasn't really changed. I try to go out
and work my hardest and try to come out and play the best tennis that I can play. That is
all I can ask of myself. And, winning, losing is out of my mind and in the Lord's hands
and sometimes you are able to do well and sometimes you are going to have years where you
don't do well. That is just part of life, part of playing on the tennis Tour. But, you
hope that each time you come back to places that you enjoy, you hope that you stick around
for the whole week.
Q. Not just this tournament in particular, but your game has stayed steady. You have
seen other guys who fluctuate a lot more. Do you think you are mentally tougher than a lot
of guys out there?
MICHAEL CHANG: I don't know if it has to do with mental toughness. I don't know what it
has to do with. I think for me a lot of it has to do with scheduling. If you are smart
about your schedule then you are going to be a little bit fresher coming into certain --
to tournaments. Obviously if you are playing week in, week out, then sooner or later your
body is going to say, well, look, I can't keep this up and not be able to maintain the
level. Nobody is able to maintain the level up here for the whole year. I mean, it is
impossible to do. So you are going to have times where you don't play well, then you slip.
You lose early. And, you know, you just take it and try to make it a better week the next
week. But, for me, I think that it is nice that I am always -- I am able to feel I can
keep a good balance in my life too. It is nice to be able to have family travel with me,
so, it is not something where it is just tennis, tennis, tennis, all the time. We are able
to go out and do things and relax and, you know, we go home go fishing and take our minds
off tennis and the game, just way we are refreshed, we are able to come back work hard,
rejuvenate, and eager to get out there and practice and work hard.
Q. Do you have to go through an evolution to reach the point where you even get balance
in your life where you can play as well as you do -- not be consumed by tennis?
MICHAEL CHANG: I think if you are a young player I think it is important to get your
priorities straight. If you don't have your priorities straight, you are not going to get
the most out of the talent that God has given you. I know that there is a lot of, you
know, there is a lot of things going on, there is a lot of money involved and obviously if
you are out there playing for something other than what you want to get out of the most of
the talent, then you feel like -- I would feel like you weren't really reaching your full
potential. So, I am not saying that is what some of the guys are doing. I am just saying
that is one of the lures of tennis. That is one of the temptations to get your mind off of
what where you need to go. And there are a lot of distractions, too, which can really take
its toll on a young person's mind. I can tell you that from experience. Maybe pressures
coming from outside, but, all and all, a lot of it sometimes is a pressure that you put on
yourself because you hear of all the other pressures, hear of all the other expectations
around you and it is important to have a good balance, a good priority, straight
priorities. And, I think it is important that you have people around you who help you and
guide you in the right way and are for your best interest.
Q. You said you like coming here. Can you talk a little bit about the Cincinnati area
and the people you have met over the last few years, why do you like this place?
MICHAEL CHANG: I like this place because people are excited about tennis. People are
excited to come out to watch. You don't have -- I mean, if you are looking at the practice
courts, you think like another match is going on out there. And people are just excited
about the game. It is nice to be able to around people who are friendly, you know, who
just are easy to get along with. Just makes things really comfortable. Makes things fun.
You almost feel like when you are able to come back year after year you are out there on
Center Court, you are playing a tough match and people are clapping, you feel like - in
certain ways - you kind of feel like you know everybody and it is a nice feeling. On top
of that, Paul does a great job in running this event. Players are spoiled. You have got
one of the best facilities on the Tour. Got pretty okay cars to drive around (laughter).
So, you know, players are able to go and relax, go to Kings Island or go to the beach or
go play golf. Just a lot of things to do and be able to come out here and say, well, I
have had a lot of fun, now let us come out and play some great tennis.
Q. Are you more susceptible more now than you were four, five years ago to burnout?
MICHAEL CHANG: No, I don't think so because I feel that in my career I feel like I have
a lot of things that I still want to accomplish, a lot of goals still ahead of me. I don't
know if I am going to be able to attain all of those goals. Something that I will just
have to kind of wait and see. But, I feel like I have so many things to improve upon my
game that, you know, I am excited to work on those and improve those. Excited to hopefully
take my game to another level and, you know, it is funny because I have been -- this is my
10th year on Tour and, quite honestly, it has gone on like that. You know, I think that
it's gone by a lot faster than I have ever thought and, you know, it is kind of scary in
certain instances to have, you know, Stefan who is 30 years old or Boris who is what 29,
30 years old retiring and to think myself I am 25 and five years, you know, hopefully I
will keep going like the Energizer Bunny. But, you know, it is kind of scary in a sense to
have those thoughts. But, other than that, I feel like I still feel like my best tennis is
ahead of me.
Q. Do you think there is any physical reason why a player can't be near the top of
their game when he is into his 30s or into his 30s?
MICHAEL CHANG: I don't think so. Physically, I don't think so. I think probably more
maybe some other people would disagree with me, but I don't think 30 is at all that old. I
don't know hold you guys are, but I don't think 30 is that old. If your body is starting
to breakdown by 30, you know, you have got to figure something is not right. So, I just
don't see it happening. I think a lot of it is mental. At least that is my approach to it
is mental because people think, well, it is a young man's sport, which it is, but I think
when are struggling, people remind you of how old you are constantly and you think to
yourself well, I am getting older, I am getting older, and then you start maybe thinking
that maybe because you have an off day you are not moving quite as fast that maybe it is
because of age. I don't believe that. You could ask me that when I am 30, but -- I don't
Q. How many tennis players are playing at this level at 30? Not many.
MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think that you can take a lot of good examples although the Tour
is a little bit different. I think the Tour is a lot more demanding now in this day and
age than it was, say, ten years ago. That is for sure. I think back then the top guys were
able to breeze through the first few rounds pretty comfortably and not have to really
worry about losing early. Now, you take a look at a field like this, you are concerned
about the first round, concerned about the second round because you know these guys are
tough. The guys are talented. The depth of men's tennis is a lot greater. And, you know,
when you have all that, guys are playing a lot more tournaments now too, and, all that,
you know, probably does take its toll. But, --
Q. How much would it change for you -- do you think -- having not been No. 1, you have
been close, if you were No. 1 the focus all turned to you, do you think that would change
it for you? Do you think the mental aspect and the focus and all the attention would be
MICHAEL CHANG: I hope --
Q. -- The pressure the strain?
MICHAEL CHANG: I hope not. I think -- I feel like if I was able to become No. 1, I feel
like in a sense you are able to have an even greater impact on people and that is what I
really feel is my primary calling as far as tennis. And I think that, you know, I feel
like I would be able to impact, in particular, the Asia community even stronger than what
it has been in the past. Hopefully all the other things wouldn't get to me. But, I will
worry about that when the time comes.
Q. Is that something that -- is that one of the things that you really want to
accomplish? Is that something that you feel --
MICHAEL CHANG: It is something that I would like to look back at my career and say that
I was No. 1. I think that is special in any field. It is just to be able to say, you know,
in all the world that you were the best at what you did. Not every one is able to attain
that and it will be nice to be able to reach that. But, yes, don't want to get too
absorbed to becoming No. 1 if it is going to hurt other aspects of my life. And, you know,
I feel at this stage, just take things day by day and take things in stride and, you know,
at the same time, you know, like I was mentioning out there, if it is the Lord's will then
it will happen. I feel like at this point in time I just need to concentrate on my game
and as long as I make king progression in the right way, which I feel like I have been
over the past, you know, six, seven years, then I should feel good about things.
JOE LYNCH: Maybe help Corretja with his forehand passing shot.
MICHAEL CHANG: It is in the past. In the past.
Q. Is Sampras catchable, maybe not this year at the end of the year, but is he?
MICHAEL CHANG: Pete will always be catchable. I think that the thing is that he is
human so he will always be catchable. Obviously he is playing some great tennis this year;
particularly in the Grand Slams. He is at this point in time playing at another level,
above the rest of the field. As a fellow professional, you don't like saying that, but
when you come down to being real, you know, it is a fact, it is true. And, you know, you
feel like the nice thing that for me, is that I grew up playing with Pete. First time we
played was when we were eight years old, so I feel that in that sense when you grow up
playing with someone, you have a certain amount of confidence factor. I think that was
something that really worked well for the top American players initially to see -- see me
win the French Open in 1989, I am sure that Courier Agassi, Sampras were saying, gee, I
beat him in the juniors, you know, he can win a Grand Slam, I can win a Grand Slam. All of
a sudden, it started a chain reaction. Then Courier was able to become No. 1. I am sure
the other guys say, shoot, Jim can become No. 1, why can't I become No. 1? It was really a
great thing. Not only did we push each other in the juniors, but it extended on into the
pros, and even continues to this day. So, Pete is catchable, but he is playing some pretty
tough tennis right now.
Q. Does it frustrate you that you haven't been able to get to No. 1 yet?
MICHAEL CHANG: I think in certain times it has. But I think those are the times where
--- it is funny because when I start absorbing my mind with becoming No. 1 and realizing,
well, if I win the tournament I can become No. 1 I don't play as well, for some reason. I
think that -- I think it comes back to the priority thing. That is not my top priority as
far as tennis is concerned. I am not able to relax and play the tennis that I can play,
which is something that I have learned.
Q. Were you ever in that position where winning a tournament will make you No. 1?
MICHAEL CHANG: Absolutely. Quite a few times.
Q. And you didn't win?
MICHAEL CHANG: And I didn't win. Well, U.S. Open last year was a good example. I think
the French Open or Wimbledon -- actually if I won Wimbledon, I think it would have been
the same situation, yeah, quite a few events.
Q. Are you surprised that you didn't -- the breakthrough and winning the Grand Slam in
1989, are you surprised that you haven't won one since then?
MICHAEL CHANG: 1989 will always be a surprise. It was something that I nerve expected.
I don't think anybody in the tennis world expected. It was just something that, you know,
I look at it and I honestly, I look at it as a miracle. Guy's 17 years old, only been
playing on clay for about two years, he has won one tournament, comes into the French Open
and just has a dream two weeks, you know, I think that in certain instances, you know, it
is kind of frustrating not being able to get the next one, then you have got to flip it
and say, well, when you have won in 1989 it wasn't something that you expected either. So,
for me, I am able -- I feel like it is important to take both things, I feel like God has
his purposes for everything, and, you know, if I don't win another Grand Slam, then as
long as I feel I have worked my hardest and tried my hardest, that is all I can ask of my
myself and that is all people can ask of me. I think at this point I will be able to walk
away from the game and say, well, I gave it my all. I came close, but fell a little bit
short of what I wanted, but, you know, I gave it my best and that is all that I could
Q. Your family travels with you, how many members of your family travel?
MICHAEL CHANG: My brother Carl and my sister-in-law Diana travel with me full-time.
Carl has been my coach for the past five years, six years. My sister-in-law Diana has been
travelling for the past year and a half. And, periodically my parents travel to selected
events. Although probably go over to the tournaments in Asia because we need a little bit
more help there. And some of the Grand Slam tournaments just to be a part of that. My dad
is a tennis nut. And, sometimes we go to Grand Slams and we can't find him and we just
leave him there (laughter). So, you know, it is nice. It is nice to be able to have my
family there because we have always been very close, and I realize that in my life I
wouldn't be where I am without my family. Everybody plays a very important role as far as
this team and, you know, if I didn't have one person in that team I wouldn't be where I
Q. Could you point to one or two things about your game that are different now than
when you first came here when you won the French Open?
MICHAEL CHANG: I think for one my serve. I think for one, serve, and I think No. 2 --
can I name 3? I feel like serve is one. Power is another. And I feel like the third one is
ability to be able to attack. And not be afraid to do it. I think back then I'd get to the
net and if I didn't hit a good shot I wouldn't set up an easy volley, didn't know quite
where I was. Serve was never an issue back then. It was a way to start the point. I don't
think I would be able to get away with that nowadays and still be ranked No. 2 in the
world. Power a factor. I think that that is something that has come over the years just
trying to get a little bit stronger, trying to bulk up a little bit because sometimes on
the Tour power is a strategy. And sometimes you have to fight power with power. And it is
difficult to be always be on the -- on your heals if a guy is hitting so hard and so we
worked on that aspect if a guy hits hard and you hit hard back. And, it is nice to be able
to do that and then I feel like all the other things have little changes here and there.
But for the most part, strength has still been my ability to move around the court and my
groundstrokes. And then also just staying solid up in the head, not letting things get out
of control and just staying calm about situations and trying to think my way through.
Q. Did getting close to No. 1 have any effect on Wimbledon this year?
MICHAEL CHANG: I like to tell you yes. But, unfortunately not. It is funny because I
lost first round this year, I lost first round last year. But I felt my preparation was
one of the best that it could have been this year. I think that grass will always be the
most difficult surface for me to play on and that for me creates an added challenge to be
able to go there and do well and hopefully win Wimbledon one day. But, it didn't really
have that factor there. I went out and I tried to play the type of tennis that I wanted to
play out there at Wimbledon and unfortunately that day my opponent was a little bit better
than I was. Yeah, actually, he had a great Wimbledon overall, semis, singles and winning
doubles for the fifth straight time. So, that, in a sense, kind of comforts me a little
bit saying well, you know, kind of snuck my way back in that fifth set and, you know, it
was kind of close to wining it. But, that is the way things go. But, yeah, it didn't have
a factor. I wish it did, but I have no excuses I went out and played good tennis, but he
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