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September 7, 1996

Michael Chang


Q. What do you think made the difference today?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think that today things just really seemed to click for me. I was playing some of my best tennis for sure throughout the tournament and I think things really fell into place today. I served quite well, which really helped me out because Andre returns serve so well, and it was important to be able to get a few free points here and there, so -- yeah, just a great day.

Q. You had so many doublefaults in this tournament up until today. You only served three. Did you do something on your day off working on your service or did you change something for this match?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, just worked on my serve a little bit more. I have had a couple of days off, so it gives me a little bit of time to concentrate and focus a little bit more on some of the areas that I needed to and the serve was definitely one of them. So, you know, second servewise things felt a lot better today than they have in the past week and a half.

Q. Did you think your doublefaults have been a serious problem in this tournament?

MICHAEL CHANG: They were definitely getting up there, I mean, they were getting up in the teens and that is something that I am not quite used to and obviously besides not getting your first serve in, if you doublefault points away instead of getting free points, you are kind of giving free points, so you can definitely get into a lot of trouble.

Q. Andre said he felt a little flat today. Do you think he looked flat to you or do you really think it was you that took it to him?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think I was able to kind of keep him off balance a little bit. I think definitely-- and Andre is the type of player that he is not going to play defensive tennis. He is really going to come out and go for his shots,. He is going to be the aggressor. And, you know, he is just going to go for his shots. Obviously he is going to make some and misstrokes. And for me, it was important to just really go out there and hang tough.

Q. Did you feel that at some point in the match that he was going to regain his composure and maybe get more competitive? Did you make yourself, I guess, play at a higher level just being aware that that could happen?

MICHAEL CHANG: It is something I didn't really want to concentrate too much on. To me, it was competitive enough, you know, I think that we still had a lot of tough points out there and, you know, even though I was up a couple of breaks in the third set, I still wanted to really concentrate and not give him anything because I had -- I had a match with Javier. I was up 2 breaks in the third set. He was able to come back and win the third set and I didn't want that to happen, so, you know, it was a good lesson for me and I was able to stick with it today.

Q. Were you surprised how easy it was to win?

MICHAEL CHANG: You know, today the score may seem like it is easy, but it is never an easy match with Andre. We always have tough matches and, you know, I just don't - I just don't expect any easy matches with Andre. Obviously he is a great champion and he just has, you know, an extreme amount of talent that, you know, some days where maybe if he is not playing so well, he is able to turn it on or just come up with some amazing shots, so, you know, I don't have any easy matches with Andre.

Q. Before you said something about being the underdog despite the ranking difference. Do you feel that was some special incentive, does that make you kind of extra happy right now?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think that, you know, I felt that a little bit that I was kind of the underdog and Andre has beaten me a few more times than I have him, so, he has beaten, you know, me twice here at the Open before and, you know, I think that, you know, I just felt like I was the underdog. Andre has had a great summer. He beat me earlier in the summer when I was playing some great tennis, that is the way I felt. I just wanted to go out there and do my best. It was a great tournament to pull through.

Q. Any particular reason why you think that you were more relaxed in a semifinal match as opposed to maybe earlier in the tournament?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think part of it is kind of being the underdog. When you are the underdog, you have less pressure. You are not really expected to win and for me, it is just - it was just exciting to be in the semifinals and just to go out and just go out and play my hardest and, you know, it was just -- I didn't have a whole lot of nerves today, I just went out and just played.

Q. Will you have nerves tomorrow?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, I don't think so either. You know, I don't think that I should change my mentality at all. I should still go out and obviously take the rest of today off and recuperate and rest up for tomorrow and just go out and give my best. That is really what it all comes down to. I can go out and give it my best and if I win then great, but if I lose, then I know I come off the court knowing that I still gave it my best. That is all I can ask of myself.

Q. On TV you pretty much dismissed the importance of becoming No. 1. Yet, so to speak, all your classmates, Pete and Andre and Jim, have all been No. 1, all won Slams more recently than you. What would it mean to you to become the best in the world to achieve the No. 1 ranking?

MICHAEL CHANG: Obviously it is great to be able to say that you were No. 1 in your profession, whether it is tennis; whether it is any other career. Obviously that is great, but I think that, you know, I have to realize that to get to this point, I am just -- just taking things point by point, and I don't feel like I need to change that mentality at all; go out and work hard and practice and, you know, if things come my way, when I do become No. 1, great, but just kind of taking things in stride and I really don't - if the Lord wants me to be No. 1, then it will happen. I don't need to be too concerned about it. Actually, I had a time earlier in the year where I did have a chance to become No. 1. I kind of got absorbed into it and it just made tennis, in a sense, thinking too much about that instead of going out and, you know, thinking about some other things.

Q. How different a player are you from the last Michael Chang that walked out of a Grand Slam final?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think I am definitely more mature, you know, learn a lot more along the way and I like to think that I am a better player since Australia, obviously Boris was playing some great tennis and Thomas was playing some great tennis so my hat is off to them. It is one of those things I feel like my tennis life has been something where, you know, I will -- I am a little bit smaller than everybody else, so, I feel that I have to persevere through times and getting to the 2 final -- two finals there have been the Australian and the French and finals of ATP Championships last year. I think for me I just need to continue to persevere. I am not a person that is really going to give up. It just makes no sense for me to do that, so...

Q. Do you think by now that your perseverance obviously on the court begins to work on other player's mind that if they are down 2, down to you that think know they are going to be there a long time if they are somehow going to pull it out?

MICHAEL CHANG: Possibly. I don't really think too much about what the other guy thinks. I am just trying to concentrate on playing my game and going out and being aggressive and playing the game that got me there, not worrying so much about my opponent.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Goran's game and Pete's game and how you approach playing both those guys?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think against both players, I am definitely going to have to return the serve very well. They both have huge serves and they both have very complete games, so, it is going to be important for me to play well in all aspects, serve and groundstrokes and be able to volley well and definitely going to need save part of my game tomorrow.

Q. Is there a point today that you felt was the key point in the match?

MICHAEL CHANG: Last point. (audience laughter).

Q. Are these new rules the I. S. T. has for length of racket going to affect you?

MICHAEL CHANG: The standard racket is 27 inches. My racket is an inch longer, and I believe that ITF rules going to make it 29, so I am an inch - I am an inch shorter than the maximum.

Q. Are you going to get one that is one inch longer?

MICHAEL CHANG: No I have been very pleased with my racket, so I have been using it since the beginning of 1994, things have been going well, so -- yeah.

Q. What intrigued you about the 28 inch racket when it was first presented to you and how much of a factor did it make?

MICHAEL CHANG: If I had a choice I probably would have played with original principles graphite for the rest of my career. Actually to have the longer racket was my brother Carl's idea and Carl is very creative person which works out quite well for me because I tend to take a little bit more after conservative approach and he worked hard with principles for about 14 or 16 months to get the racket to where not only I could can serve well, but still, you know, hit my groundstrokes the same way that I have been.

Q. (Inaudible.)

MICHAEL CHANG: At first it was a little bit difficult because we initially just tried to length then the racket and I was able to serve well, but once you got the serve back you are history, because you couldn't -- you weren't able to keep the ball in play and so we had to, pretty hard on the racket and I think that just put a lot of hard work.

Q. Is the key the balance and the watering now of the racket?

MICHAEL CHANG: Definitely. That is definitely part of it. I think that, you know, you can when you make a racket a little bit longer obviously it is going to be a little bit slower in the hand, so you definitely have to shift some parts of the racket around in order to be able to play like a 27 inch racket.

Q. If it is Pete that you play you have lost 8 of the last nine times that you played. What are the specific challenges that are so difficult for your game when you face Pete?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think Pete just been playing some great tennis over the past few years, obviously for him to finish the year at No. 1 the past three years is an incredible achievement, and, you know, I think that the thing that I need to concentrate on is to know that each day is a new day. There was a period of time where I was beating Pete pretty consistently and then period of time where he was beating me pretty consistently and, you know, it is just one of those things where you have to know that you are working hard and you are making progress in your own game so that each time you go out and play somebody again, whether you have lost to them before, you go out with a renewed attitude saying well, I am a better player this time and hopefully things will be closer or things will come my way, but -- yeah, so.....

Q. Andre said to him the conditions weren't really conducive for an intense match. Have you ever had played a match that you didn't think was an intense match?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't know. I was pretty intense out there. I was definitely excited to be out there to play Andre in the semifinal and I was pretty pumped, so maybe things didn't feel quite right for Andre, but things felt great for me.

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