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August 26, 1996

Michael Chang


Q. Was this harder than you anticipated?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think that today I expected a tough match. You know, I played him before in the Olympics in '92. I lost to him in four sets. You know, it's been a while since we played, but I know he was playing good tennis because I saw some of his quality results. I think to beat Jacco Eltingh in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, he's playing pretty good tennis. I expected a tough match and it definitely was.

Q. Michael, in the final set, you served 35 percent first serves in. Must have had a struggle.

MICHAEL CHANG: I think we were both struggling quite a bit. I don't know if you guys noticed or not. I don't know if you guys noticed on the second serve. It was a bit windy out there. I think that was affecting both of us a little bit. Our percentages were definitely missing a lot more than we normally would.

Q. Were you feeling okay? Seemed like a little slow sometimes with the serve.

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah. You know, I think I was pretty tight throughout the whole match. I normally get into the match and loosen up. Today the nerves didn't ever seem to go away, which is really strange. Nice to get the first match under the belt. Hopefully from here on out, those will be my nerves for the rest of the tournament and I won't have to deal with them.

Q. Can you put a finger on why you've been here so many times and done well; seems like you would be one of the last guys to get nervous.

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't agree. I think we're all human. Everyone has moments where they will get tight. I think today partly it was just a real tough match. You know, for some reason I didn't feel the way I wanted to out there.

Q. Do you ever think back, put Slams together in your mind; ever think back to Wimbledon didn't go the way I wanted it to?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, not really. I think once I'm in a different place and a familiar setting, new setting, I don't think too much about the other tournaments. I might think about previous times I've been here at the US Open, but not previous Grand Slams.

Q. Was part of that nervousness about the controversy over the seeding and being bumped up a spot?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, I don't think so. I don't think that had anything to do with it.

Q. How do you feel about being seeded No. 2?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think obviously I feel I'm still No. 3 in the world. That's fair to say. That's fair for Thomas. You know, I think that with the way the seedings were, 2 and 3 normally really doesn't matter. Obviously they've changed the other seedings around. I guess it makes a little bit of a difference. I guess theoretically if you were to -- if Andre was supposed to be seeded where he was, I believe at 8, Thomas at 2, they still could have met in the quarterfinals theoretically.

Q. Do you think this is something that the USTA should continue to do, that is, make the seedings --

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't feel like they should necessarily have done that. I pretty much agree with how the rest of the players feel. I think particularly for Yevgeny, he is an excellent player. He's a dangerous player on all surfaces. I think obviously winning the French shows how great of a claycourt player he is. But all of the players know how good of a player he is on hardcourt. That was, I think, the biggest surprise; one of the biggest surprises for all of us. I think the USTA will probably think twice about doing it next year.

Q. Michael, yesterday afternoon the ATP Tour had a press conference. Strong show of solidarity on the top pros of the Tour; so strong that it was noticeable that neither you or Andre was present. Can you explain why you decided not to be there or could not be there?

MICHAEL CHANG: Actually, I never knew there was a meeting. Nobody ever told me about it. I have no problem talking to you guys about it. I did mention it at a couple interviews at the Hamlet, talked a little bit about it there. I totally support it. I agree with the guys, like I said earlier. Obviously it's a situation where a draw has been made, matches have begun already, so it's something that you just go out and play. Obviously this will probably, I think, in many ways kind of always be in the back of everyone's mind for the next two weeks.

Q. Michael, when you do get nervous in a match, do you have anything you tell yourself, routines or tricks to try to calm your nerves?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yes. Just tell myself not to get nervous. You know, I think a lot of it's just going out and just playing, just going out and try to concentrate on each point. I think the next match will be better. It's always nice to get the first match under the belt. I think one of the toughest matches for any top player is to play the first match in the Grand Slam. That's where the players are most vulnerable, always the early stages of a tournament. I'm no different than everyone else. I think everyone gets butterflies.

Q. In the tiebreak, Michael, at 5-4, was the controversy over a not-up? Was that what the discussion was about?

MICHAEL CHANG: No. Actually, he called the score 6-5. First of all, I asked if Jaime may have touched the net. He said no. I asked did Jaime touch the ball. He said, "Yeah, he touched it with the throat of his racquet." I thought I hit a passing shot off the next shot. He was like, "Oh, okay." Then he called Jaime over, and he said, "No, I hit it in the net." I thought I hit a passing shot, but I guess I hit it in the net. I said, "Sorry, I thought I hit a passing shot." We went back and played.

Q. Was that the ball inside the service line with the open court that you hit into the net, is that the one you're talking about?

MICHAEL CHANG: Apparently I had the short ball, Jaime was really close to the net. I was going to poke a ball right at him. I guess he hit it with the throat of his racquet, the ball dribbled over. I guess the next shot I hit was in the net. For some reason I remember it going over the net. That's what I was arguing. He said I didn't, so I just apologized and went back and played.

Q. Virtual reality maybe?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah. It was that cyber vision of hitting that winner.

Q. Michael, with the players being unified here over the seeding, which is fairly unusual over the last five years, why is it that when many of the top players have complained about the best of 14 system, that you guys haven't gotten together and changed that, especially when it's within your own organization?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think as far as the best 14, I feel like they're still looking for a better system. They've gotten all these scholars together and it's been difficult to find a really good system that benefits everybody. It's difficult to say. I mean, there are a lot of things that the players deal with as far as timing-wise for Davis Cup, as far as timing-wise for Grand Slam Cup, balancing tournaments, jumping around a few different weeks each year. A lot of things that players have to deal with, things that are constantly changing. I think most of the voices have probably come from the top players as far as, you know, some people playing maybe too many tournaments on other surfaces. Other than that, hasn't really been a whole lot of talk about it.

Q. But given that there is dissatisfaction with the ranking system as it is, why is everyone so upset about the seedings? I mean, if no one really considers the ranking system to be completely legitimate or fair, then why be upset with the seedings at this particular tournament?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think that the players do feel that the ranking system is much better than it was. One reason is that the Grand Slams have a lot more points. You had a situation last year where Pete won both Wimbledon and the US Open, Thomas won the French, and Andre won the Australian. Under that kind of scenario, it shouldn't be that Pete's fighting at the year-end championships for his No. 1 ranking. That was something they did change this year. The players feel a lot more comfortable with that. I think that has taken away a little bit of that, as far as the ranking and points and stuff, giving more points and more credit to the guys who do well in the Grand Slam tournaments.

Q. Michael, coming into this tournament, you were 16 and 2 since Wimbledon. Can you say that during this streak you've played as well or better than you have ever played professionally?

MICHAEL CHANG: I definitely played some pretty darn good tennis over the summer. I would still like to be able to keep things going here. Definitely the times that I've been through a summer, this is probably my best summer up to date.

Q. But how good, the quality of tennis you've played?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think it's been much better over the years past. It's been more consistent. I've been able to get through a lot of tough matches against top players.

Q. Michael, to get back to that incident in the tiebreak for a second. Had you won that -- if I have it correctly, had you won that point, the score would have been 6-4?


Q. 5-5?


Q. Were you thinking fifth set at 6-4?

MICHAEL CHANG: No. I was hoping he would throw another double (laughter). I don't know how many double-faults we both had in the match, but 6-4 was the correct score, and that's the way it should have been played.

Q. Would you like to know the total?

MICHAEL CHANG: That's okay (laughter).

Q. You were particularly effective defending breakpoints today. Was it more his simply not taking advantage of his opportunities or did you think that you played especially well when you were faced with a breakpoint?

MICHAEL CHANG: I'm not really sure. I know on one particular game I came out with three big serves. Two were aces. I don't know how many breakpoints I was down. On those occasions, I came up with good shots.

Q. Michael, because of the wind conditions, were you purposefully taking something off the first serve, which has been very effective for you lately?

MICHAEL CHANG: Sometimes. Sometimes, yeah. I think Jaime was doing the same as well.

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