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September 8, 1996

Michael Chang


Q. Did it kind of get away from you at the start in terms of dropping the start started quickly. Are you kind of -- did you go in a hole and never quite get out?

MICHAEL CHANG: You know, I thought that the first set, actually few points, really could have gone my way. I had breakpoints in both his opening service games and, you know, just things didn't get off to a very good start and, you know, I didn't - I still didn't feel like I was out of the match at any point. I felt like I was starting to get into the rallies and things were definitely starting to get better for me. Just wasn't able to close out that third set. I was a little bit unlucky on the set point to clip the tape there. I think I had a pretty good chance of winning that point if it didn't clip the tape. But from there, it is a whole new ballgame and just a few points really kind of really made things just swing his way and just a bit unfortunate.

Q. How would you rate Pete's performance? Is this the best played game in a while?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, I think the best part of Pete's game tonight was his serve. Obviously, he was serving pretty well and I think that that was probably the single most difficult thing tonight.

Q. How demoralizing is it to play Sampras when his serve is that on?

MICHAEL CHANG: You know, I think that, for me, I have just - I played Pete so many times that you get used to him. You go out there knowing that you are going to get aced a few times and you are just trying to go out there and stay positive and take advantage of chances that you get. He is human, so, he will give you opportunities to break him, and I did have a few opportunities to do so and just wasn't able to get those crucial points.

Q. In the past, women historically complain about not having a set starting time for a Championship Grand Slam match. Was it different for you? Did it bother you that you had to wait when you were going to go on; plus the rain delay?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, it didn't really bother me. Actually, these things happen on Tour and sometimes that is just the way it goes. It didn't bother me. I think I did get off to a little bit of a slow start, but I don't think the rain or anything had anything to do with it.

Q. What did you do during the rain delay and were you around Pete at all?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, Pete was down here. I was up in the locker room.

Q. What did you do?

MICHAEL CHANG: I just pretty much relaxed and kind of just chilling out.

Q. How good he is?

MICHAEL CHANG: Obviously Pete is a great player. He is a great champion and I feel like he is definitely - when he is at his best, obviously he is a very tough player to beat, but I don't feel like he is necessarily unbeatable. I think everyone has certain weaknesses and you just need to be able to exploit them and exploit them effectively in order to do that. Obviously, against Pete, he is not going to give you a whole lot. You have to play some of your best tennis absolutely in order to beat him.

Q. How frustrating is it to be in the finals of another Grand Slam and not win it?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, it is obviously - to a point, it is disappointing, but I think that in my life, it has been something where I have always seemed to be challenged with to persevere, and I don't think that this is any exception. I think that you have an opportunity to just take things step by step. People say, well, you can't come close to winning a major or you can't get to this particular ranking and you go out there and you take things little by little, and you concur things little by little. The way I look at it is that today things didn't go my way, but, you know, just going to keep my head up and continue to work hard and just, you know, strive for bigger and better things, but, you know, I know that the Lord has his timing for everything and to me, that is very, very important and, you know, I still feel like - I still feel like my best tennis is ahead of me. And that, for me, you know, is a good thing. You lose in the finals of a U.S. Open, you can look at it well, it was disappointing, but yet you can look at the positive side and say, well, this is the first time I have gotten to the U.S. Open final. And you think and you work hard and hopefully you say, okay, well next year we will work at it and try to take it a step further. Just stay real positive.

Q. Did you watch any of Pete's match against Corretja and when you think about that now, are you at all amazed that he has managed to come through yet again under such adverse conditions and win a Grand Slam tournament?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, I think that -- I think that all the champions go through similar situations. You can take situations that they get through really tough matches, I mean, Boris for example, you know, the year he won the U.S. Open, he was down a matchpoint against Rostagno and clipped the tape and that was his way of saving matchpoint. I think all the great champions have matches where they are just incredibly memorable. You can pretty much go down the list Edberg, Becker, Agassi, myself, Courier, Sampras, I mean, everybody has had matches where you have just been under very, very tough situations and be able to come through. That is part of being a champion. But, you know, at the same time, you feel happy that Pete is able to get through something like that, but then you feel bad for a guy like Alex Corretja who is an incredibly nice guy. You know, it would be nice in a sense to kind of see them both win. Sometimes that is just the way things go.

Q. Do you think Pete pretty much has a lock on No. 1 for this year even though there are four different Grand Slam winners?

MICHAEL CHANG: I really don't know. I don't know as far as the point standings or anything like that. I am not too concerned about the points over anything like that. I feel like Pete has been No. 1 for three years now. And the way I look at it, no offense to Pete, what goes up must come down (audience laughter). The way I look at it is being No. 2, hopefully, I am next in line, so, you know, it is one of those things, and you can always say, well, Pete is a year older and a little bit older and we will just continue to work at things.

Q. Were there any nerves or pressure about being No. 1?

MICHAEL CHANG: Once again, actually not. I felt I was going in as the underdog and I didn't feel a whole lot of pressure. I had a bit of nerves, I think. I think anybody would, but, you know, I don't think that, you know, I was - it wasn't to the point where I wasn't able to concentrate so....

Q. This is the best year for you at U.S. Open. What do you rate yourself this time? This is the best year for you for the U.S. Open.

MICHAEL CHANG: I think it has been a pretty good summer for me. Obviously you like to be able to top it off to wining the biggest championship in the United States, but I think that overall, it has been a good summer. And we will take things and learn from things and go back and analyze things that we could do better and things that maybe we made mistakes on, and hopefully come back next year a bigger and better player.

Q. You mentioned the net cord that saved Becker against Rostagno. Do you think you will remember this net cord for the rest of your life?

MICHAEL CHANG: No. I don't think so. It is funny because I -- I might. I might. (Audience laughter). I might. It is funny because matches can really turn around - one point here and there. Obviously if that point goes my way, you know, I just don't count myself out. I mean, even though I am down two sets to love to the No. 1 player in the world, I don't count myself out. And, you know, I am just going to keep on fighting and obviously if he is able to beat me, then he is able to beat me, but I am just not going to lay down for him.

Q. You seemed pretty frustrated walking back to the baseline afterwards. What was going through your mind just at that moment?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, it was, you know, I think that I was just trying to hopefully just work on trying to get another opportunity, another chance, another set point, and, you know, it was frustrating because I clipped it -- clipped the tape. Then I had the racket on -- the ball on the racket and just wasn't able to get a clean hit, and, you know, that is just sometimes the way that things go. So, it is not -- the match isn't determined by one point, but obviously one point can make a very big difference sometimes.

Q. Three years ago you played Pete on this very day in the quarters. I am just looking at this. You said after he beat you, he played these two incredible sets at the end - you said what could I do, I don't know maybe go over and snap his strings when he is playing his best, he is practically unbeatable. Can you compare that to this and do you feel the same way tonight?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't feel the same way. You know, I think that obviously Pete is a great player. I mean there is no question about that. I think that when he is playing his best tennis he is incredibly tough to beat. But three years ago is three years ago, and, you know, I think that for me, I feel like things have been improving, so when you improve and someone is playing their best tennis then you are gaining a little bit in a sense, you know? So I don't go out with a mentality to play anybody saying that, oh, they are too good for me because otherwise you lose the match before you even step out on the court. And that is not good because a guy like Pete is just going to walk all over you. So, you know, -- yeah, I mean, mentalities change and things change and hopefully next year's final, if I do play Pete, will change.

Q. You mentioned yesterday that there was a time this year when you were thinking a little too much about the No. 1 ranking. When was that specifically and did you think at all about the No. 1 ranking today?

MICHAEL CHANG: That was a little bit during the spring of this year when we had our -- the U.S. Tournaments going on and stuff and I was pretty close. I think if I was able to win both Indian Wells and Lipton tournament, then I had a pretty good chance of being No. 1. It is -- I realize that you get to a certain point where you realize that in order to go higher in the rankings you need though take care of things -- other things first. You need to put the hard work in and you need just to concentrate on each match - that points turn into points, sets turn into sets, matches turn into matches and tournaments turn into tournaments, so you work yourself up instead of thinking backwards.

Q. Was it hard not thinking about that knowing that you would be No. 1 if you would have won?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, I think I was able to handle it pretty good. I didn't think too much about it. I think that I was just trying to go out there and concentrate on what I needed to do and fell a little bit short, but -- but still going out and gave it my best.

Q. What did you most want to do well going into the match? What did you feel would be the most important thing for you to do well?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think I definitely wanted to -- I wanted to dictate a little bit better. I wasn't able to do that. I had -- I think I had quite a few unforced errors that, you know, Pete wasn't necessarily pressing me, I mean, I was -- maybe I was trying to press him too much. I needed to be a little bit more patient, so yeah, I definitely wanted to definitely be a little bit more consistent and be aggressive at the same time. Be a little bit more selective on my groundstrokes and return well to in order to beat Pete Sampras you have to return well.

Q. None of the contemporaries of Pete Sampras are close to him him in Grand Slam titles now. Does that mean nobody is close to him or that he has been incredibly lucky and good at the right times?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't think you can say it is luck. I believe everything happens for a reason, so, you know, it is hard to say. Obviously, Pete has just been able to really excel his game. There is no question about that. Over the years, he has pretty clearly been the No. 1 player in the world. There have been times where he has lost that, but I think it has been pretty clear, so, you know, it is strange because as a junior Pete really didn't win a whole lot of tournaments. He always played a division or two up and, you know, the guys that were winning junior tournaments were like myself, Courier and Pete was obviously -- he was a very talented junior, but really didn't make his mark until a couple of years on Tour so....

Q. Is it daunting to think that you essentially dominated him in the early years and now I think he has won 11 of the last 12 times you have met?

MICHAEL CHANG: You know, it is funny because, you know, I think sometimes history repeats itself, so in a sense, you know, sometimes things go this way, but then they kind of come back around, so hopefully over the next 12 times I will win 11 of them (audience laughter). But we got a heck of a lot of years of tennis left. I am 24 years old and Pete is an old 25, so (audience laughter), you know, we have a heck of a lot of tennis left and I have seen a heck of a lot of Pete in the juniors since we were eight years old and whether he likes it or not, he is going to be seeing a heck of a lot of me over the next -- until his career is over, so, you know, hopefully things will change.

End of FastScripts...

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