August 31, 1996
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
Q. Why aren't you sitting down?
MICHAEL CHANG: I think, for one, it's been a really long match and I think when you sit, your body kind of shuts down. Very easy to tense up and sometimes cramp. I've learned the hard way so I just avoid it altogether.
Q. What was your confidence level when you were serving for the match?
MICHAEL CHANG: Obviously I was feeling better about that than having to break to stay in the match. You know, I was just taking things point by point. Regardless of whether I was serving for it or whether it was in the middle of the fifth set, you know, just taking things -- concentrating on each point, not worrying about the score all that much. Yeah, that's really what it was, concentrating.
Q. Talk about the final part of the fourth set, he serves for the match, all that stuff, you win 12 or 13 straight points.
MICHAEL CHANG: I was just trying to hang tough. I think that Vince did definitely probably get a little bit tight. I thought I was going to be able to sneak my way back in the match when I broke him to go, what was it, 4-All I think, then I lost my serve again. It's just one of those things. He was playing some great tennis out there, that's for sure, making some great stab volleys, just coming up with some huge shots. Definitely a very, very tough match.
Q. You seem to have perfected the art of the great escape, you've done it many times.
MICHAEL CHANG: That's not true. That's not true. You have matches where sometimes you're able to get through and sometimes not. You also have matches that, you know, you have opportunities to win and you don't close it out. I think all in all, everyone goes through kind of each stage. You hope that you win more than you lose. In that situation all you can do is really come out and just try to fight your way through.
Q. You don't think that you have more than other players to be able to get through that, hang in there? You seem to have that mental approach to it.
MICHAEL CHANG: I don't really compare myself in that sense. I'm just out there fighting. Yeah, I'm just out there fighting. To me, it's that simple.
Q. Do you think that today it was your experience that helped you to pull the match out?
MICHAEL CHANG: No, I don't think so. I really felt like the Lord pulled me through today. You know, I was very tired in that fifth set. It's just kind of hard to explain. You're out there and you're really tired and you just go out and you're trying your best. Some shots you're just not able to get to and stuff. To be honest with you, I don't really know how I was able to win today's match, I really don't.
Q. When you look across the net in that fifth set, are you looking at a guy who really has been out playing you for part of the match or do you look at the guy and say, "I know he has less experience than I have"?
MICHAEL CHANG: I don't think it's a thing as far as being less experienced or not. I've played five-set matches before. I think maybe in some regards, maybe he was trying to -- maybe he was thinking a little bit about the fourth set getting away. I don't really know what was going through his mind. You'll probably have to ask him that. You know, sometimes it's -- I don't know. I just don't think sometimes it's experience. Obviously sometimes it is, because if a guy gets a little tight, but then again everyone gets tight because we're all human, and that's the way the sport is. I just don't know anybody who doesn't get a little bit tight.
Q. You don't very often get tight?
MICHAEL CHANG: I get tight all the time.
Q. We just don't see it?
MICHAEL CHANG: I was pretty tight my first round match. I had quite a bit of nerves. I think that's just normal. Anyone who doesn't have nerves before a big match, I don't know.
Q. As a player who has been in that spot or a similar spot before, can you describe what your mind frame was as he served for it, and how you set yourself up to deal with it?
MICHAEL CHANG: You know, I think in all matches that I play, if I'm down in a match and if I'm down a match point, or I'm down and a guy is serving for it, I don't cut myself out. I think that's very important for me. If I cut myself out mentally, I'm going to lose for sure. I think for me it's just going out and not worrying about the situation, not being absorbed by it, just going out and playing each point, because you know points turn into games, games turn into sets, sets turn into matches. A match as tough as today's is just not over until that last point is hit. You know, Vince knows that I'm not going to give it to him. If he's able to come out and hit great shots and beat me, then he's too good.
Q. He also said in his press conference that he thought about it, "I'm playing Michael Chang at this point." Do you think your reputation as a fighter and someone who is not going to give up gets on his mind, and that to some degree might help?
MICHAEL CHANG: I don't know. It depends. I hope so. It would be nice. Then again, you never want to be down in that situation in order for them to think that. I played Vince a couple times before. All the matches we've played have gone the distance. We played three tough sets earlier this summer. Just not an easy player to play. A very talented player. Vince is still very young and he's constantly learning, constantly improving.
Q. Michael, he said that he thought you were cramping out there, but he wasn't sure, thought maybe you were just pretending to cramp out there.
MICHAEL CHANG: I don't know if anyone can really pretend to cramp (laughter). I was cramping a little bit, a little bit, but nothing to the point where it really -- where I wasn't going to make any kind of moves for any balls, yeah.
Q. I just wondered, through your career you've had cramps. Is this a constant battle? Have you tried everything under the sun to stop it?
MICHAEL CHANG: I think it's safe to say that compared to all the other guys on the Tour, except for maybe Sammy Giammalva, he used to cramp really bad. Other than that, I'd say I probably cramp more than anybody else. I don't know why. I think before it had to do with -- first in the beginning, I think it was inexperience. I think part of it, my body was maturing, still growing. Now, I normally don't have the kind of problems like I used to, but I still have a few problems like everybody else does. You have a tough match like that in five sets, you know that both players are going to suffer physically. Hopefully Vince is feeling somewhat like me. That's just the way it goes, that's part of tennis.
Q. Where are they located, Michael? Is it from the knees up? Is it the whole leg?
MICHAEL CHANG: It varies. It varies.
Q. Michael, you've been using the longer racquet for quite some time. Not that this was your best service game. Can you describe what that allows you to do that previously you might not have been able to do?
MICHAEL CHANG: I think definitely it's given me a little bit more pace on my serve. I think my serve has definitely improved over the past couple of years. I think that's partly due to the racquet and partly due to just working hard on my serve. Obviously you're going to have days where you don't serve quite as well. It's something that you just continue to work at. I know if I had the serve that I had maybe like in 1989, I probably wouldn't be able to really survive. Serve is such a vital part of the game now.
Q. Michael, you living in Nevada now, but you grew up in Hoboken, New Jersey.
MICHAEL CHANG: I was born there, stayed there probably three or four months.
Q. Can you tell us your memories of Hoboken?
MICHAEL CHANG: I don't really have a whole lot of memories (laughter). My dad went to school there at Stevens. We pretty much weren't there that long. Actually came over to live in New York for a little while, which kind of migrated over to the west coast. Actually kind of nice to have been born there. Old Blue Eyes was there, too.
Q. You talk about how you never count yourself out any match. Were you taught that or do you think you were born or something with that kind of attitude out on the court?
MICHAEL CHANG: I think I probably get it more from my mom than anybody else because my mom is an incredibly competitive person. She's just one never to give up. If you tell her she can't do it, she'll go and try, try, try, till she proves you wrong. In many ways, that's the way I am. I think you learn through experience that you do have times where you are down, you have to give yourself that hope of coming back. You're not going to be able to come back all the time, but there are going to be days where you will. You have to give yourself that opportunity and that chance to do so. I think a lot of it is personality, yeah. I think I got pretty good genes from my parents, very proud of them. I'd say I probably get it from my mom more than anybody else.
Q. Did you detect a particular weakness in his game or a change in his game from when he was up 5-4?
MICHAEL CHANG: A little bit, but nothing that I necessarily want to go into. Vince is very young. I'm going to be seeing a lot of him over the years, but not a whole lot. He was definitely, you know, playing some really tough tennis, covering the net like he was Stefan Edberg or somebody, just really playing some great all-court tennis. He came out with some good serves, volleyed well when he needed to. He's always had really tough groundstrokes. Today was just a really tough match.
Q. Michael, when you first started out on the Tour, were there other players who you saw who you thought were great fifth set players? You saw them and thought, "I need to become like that"?
MICHAEL CHANG: No, not really. I think throughout my career, I've had matches where I just ended up playing a lot of five-set matches. I actually had a period of time where I was losing more than I was winning. I think when you get in the fifth set, you go out and you just give it all you've got. That sounds kind of simple, but that's all you really can do. If you win, great. If you lose, you know, you walk off knowing that you gave your hundred percent. Sometimes a guy is just better. Sometimes you're able to sneak through like I did today, God's mercy. That's really all it comes down to.
Q. You had a 35 percent first serve percentage. Could you kind of address was it something he was doing or problems with your serve?
MICHAEL CHANG: More a problem on my serve. Didn't have much of a rhythm today. I'll definitely go back and work on that and try to get a better rhythm. Having a lot of double-faults over the last, first and third matches. Have to work on that and cut that out. That's an important part of my game now.
Q. Your next opponent?
MICHAEL CHANG: I don't know who I play.
End of FastScripts....