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August 11, 1996

Michael Chang


GREG SHARKO: With Michael reaching his fourth straight final here, he and Stefan Edberg are the only two players to reach the final here four consecutive years. Edberg did it from 1987 to '90. And on tomorrow's ATP tour rankings, Michael will still remain at number three. First question, please.

Q. In the 17 times you guys have played, both times you won the first set and won the match, is there a reason why?

MICHAEL CHANG: Not necessarily. I think, actually, the last time we played I lot the first set and I ended up winning the second and third set. So I don't think there's necessarily a pattern, I don't think necessarily. I think, actually, the same was -- kind of similar was with Courier, actually. I had quite a few matches that went three sets -- or actually, they were both winning in straight sets. I don't think each match was so different.

Q. Michael, you got some treatment before the eighth game of the first set. Were your legs bothering you? It seemed like it helped you when you broke Andre and moving on.

MICHAEL CHANG: No. I just felt it was a little bit tight, so I basically put some stuff to keep it warm, you know. So it wasn't a problem during the match at all. I just wanted to make sure it didn't become one.

Q. Why do you think he was playing particularly well today?

MICHAEL CHANG: Uhmm, I think that, you know, Andre was able to, you know, play some pretty good tennis today. You know, I think overall I really had my chances today. I mean, I had that -- those four set points and his service game Love-40. You know, this caliber of tennis you really can't let those opportunities slip away. You know, they don't come along very often. So it's frustrating to lose a first set that way. And, you know, I think if I was able to win that first set, things could have definitely been a little bit different. Andre has always been a better player as a frontrunner than, you know, as a person playing catch up. So, you know, sometimes that's just the way things go. But, you know, we're all -- it was still very tight.

Q. Did you beat yourself up over that much after the first set ended? I mean, was it always in the back of your mind?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, not really. I try to really concentrate and just move on. I concentrate from each point from there on out. And once the set's over, it's over, and you just concentrate as best you can on what you're doing at that particular time. So, you know, I was just trying to get -- you know, get back in that second set. So, you know, I think that -- yeah.

Q. First set percentage was kind of I think about 43 percent. Is that the lowest you've served in a while?

MICHAEL CHANG: On my serve?

Q. First serve percentage.

MICHAEL CHANG: You know, I really don't know exactly how my percentage has been over this entire week. You know, I felt that I've been serving pretty well throughout the week. And, you know, honestly, if you're able to -- the better you serve against Andre, obviously it's going to help you out more and more, because he has such a good return. But it definitely would have been nice to win a few more points, you know, a few more free points.

Q. Was it very windy out there today?

MICHAEL CHANG: A little bit gusty. A little bit, but not too bad. So, you know, it's actually pretty nice tennis weather considering conditions that are possible in Cincinnati.

Q. Have you ever played even as close to as many times as you've played him, not just professionally but in your entire life?

MICHAEL CHANG: I'm sorry, I don't understand.

Q. Have you played anybody else as much as you've played him?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, actually, I played Pete a number of times. Actually, all four of us. I played Jim a number of times.

Q. Edberg was 21?

MICHAEL CHANG: Edberg I played 21 times?

Q. Yeah. But even as a kid.


Q. Yeah.

MICHAEL CHANG: You know, there again, I played Andre many times in the juniors, but I've also played Pete many times in the juniors. So first time I played Pete was when we were both eight years old. So we go back a ways. So that's just part of growing up and playing pretty much the same section, you know, in the nation. And it was great for all of us to really improve.

Q. He was talking the other day about how he enjoyed victories over you and Pete because it was so tough to beat you. Is he one of the guys that you like to play? And is it more meaningful when you do beat him?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think it's meaningful when you beat Andre, period. You know, I think that it's funny because I can recall about a year ago he was saying that he really didn't put me on that same level as Pete and Courier, for example. So, you know, now he may be changing his mentality a little bit. But, you know, I think for all the players to be able to beat Andre is always going to be a great win. You know, I can recall when he had his slump a couple of years ago and he was down to 28 in the world, and guys would still come out and beat Andre. And it was almost like he was still a top five player. And people still kind of looked at him that way. So, you know, whether you can beat Andre whether he's playing well or not or whether he's playing left-handed or not, you know, it's always a good win.

Q. Is there any way to tell the level today as he was a year ago at this time?

MICHAEL CHANG: Uhmm, I mean there are definitely ways to tell. I think it's difficult to, in a sense, say because, you know, you want to feel like you, yourself, are improving. So, you know, sometimes you may feel maybe someone hasn't improved or they are improving, but yet you're improving at the same time. So it's a little bit hard to say. But Andre has been playing some pretty good tennis past couple of weeks. You know, yeah.

Q. Did he seem as good to you today as he did last year? I mean, same level of play? He was so hot.

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, I think -- you know, that's really hard to say, because -- I'll tell you why. You know, last year, during the summer, he was really smoking everybody, really winning; and pretty comfortably, actually. And even, you know, he's won the last couple of weeks, he's been able to get through a lot of tough matches. He's had a lot of three-setters. He had a couple matches at the Olympics there, he was in some serious trouble. You know, Ferreira was serving for the match, Gaudenzi was up a set 3-1 and 40-Love. And even this week he had quite a few three-setters. So it's hard to say, but obviously today (inaudible.)

Q. Is that the rest of the field catching up to him?

MICHAEL CHANG: Hope so. I think that -- uhmm, I think everyone is getting closer and closer to each other. I think last year you can definitely say that Pete and Andre were a level ahead of everybody. But I think this year, the way everything has gone and the way things have been, I don't think you can say that anymore, to be honest with you. They're still be playing great tennis. Obviously, they'll always be contenders for the big tournament. But I don't think you can put them at the same level as they were last year.

Q. How big is the (inaudible.)

MICHAEL CHANG: Uhmm, it's a pretty big list. You know, you take this year's Grand Slam winners. So it's a pretty -- it's pretty diverse. You know, and I think it also depends also on surface too. You know, you kind of have to dissect some of the surface; guys who do better on the different surfaces. That's why I said the U.S. Open is going to be really interesting this year.

Q. Michael, speaking of the U S Open, how do you assess you're playing?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think I'm playing pretty good tennis. I got off to a really good start to the summer. And even this week, I have not lost to the final. And it's been a good week for me, and a good confidence booster. I've got next week off, I'm not playing Indy or New Haven. So I'll go back home and really put in some good work, and hopefully come Long Island and U.S. Open, I'll be playing better tennis.

Q. Back to today's match for a second. You played well (inaudible)?

MICHAEL CHANG: I played good. I played well. But I can play better. You know, I think that I wish I had a little bit more bounce today in my legs. Maybe Amanda could have helped me out in that department. But, you know, I wish I did have a little bit more bounce. That's important against Andre; particularly for me because, you know, I need to be able to move well, you know, in order to play aggressive tennis against him and to be successful. And I did it quite a bit of running last night. So -- you know, but you come out with your best game, and, you know, today I came out and gave my best today and it was a little bit short. So, you know, hats off to Andre.

Q. You were just saying about going into the U.S. Open, and the way you're playing, how would you compare it to the way you played in the Australian when have reached the final, even a couple of U.S. Opens ago, have you got better performances there?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think this summerwise, I think I've been playing better tennis than the Australian Open and in the years past at the U.S. Open. You know, I feel things are heading in the right direction. I feel like, you know, the past, you know, three weeks has been good, solid tennis for me. And, you know, I've been able to go through a lot of tough matches and, you know, just feel good about things. You know, next week is going to be an important week for me to keep things up and to really get physically, you know, fit and mentally prepared. But, you know, I'm excited about it. So I'm excited about this year's Open, so..

Q. Where would you place yourself in the pack?

MICHAEL CHANG: Number three.

Q. You agree with the computer?

GREG SHARKO: Anything else for Michael?

Q. Have you watched Sampras play? Do you have views on his performances?

MICHAEL CHANG: You know, I have not watched Pete play all that much. You know, I did watch a little bit against Enqvist, but I think in that match I was watching Thomas a little bit more than Pete. But, you know, it's been a tough -- it's been a tough year for Pete. You know, you really have to still give the guy a lot of credit because, you know, he's -- he's had a lot of personal difficulties and personal tragedies and, you know, obviously Pete, over the last three years, has -- in many senses has been, you know, clear-cut number one, you know. But even though he's struggling a little bit this year, you still have to take your hat off to him because it's not easy for him to be in the situation that's he's in, to balance tennis and to balance the other things in his life. And, yeah, so you definitely feel for the guy, you know. But, you know, it's -- it's just one of those things that's very tough. But people get through. You know, he's always going to play great tennis. I mean, that's just the way Pete is. You know, he's still a dangerous player. He's still a dangerous player and, you know, he's still definitely one of the favorites for the Open. But I think as far as the Open and a couple of other things concerning his life, the Open and stuff, tennis is really secondary. I think he really realizes the importance of life and, you know, what priorities you place, you know, in each person's life.

Q. Without trying to add an excuse, can you go back over the last three years and tell me whether you played the afternoon match on Saturday or the night match on Saturday and how did it (inaudible)?

MICHAEL CHANG: Last year I played a night match.

Q. You lost?

MICHAEL CHANG: I came back and lost. This year I did the same. The year before that Stefan played the night match. And the year before that -- I'm getting old, aren't I? The year before that I played Stefan and -- I played a day match, because I beat Andre in the semis, I think.

Q. So the last four years it's the day match winner has won the Sunday match.

MICHAEL CHANG: I guess that's the case. Talk to Paul about it. It's definitely harder. I mean, it's definitely tougher. But, you know, you play with the schedule. It depends on how you look at it. If the day session is something where it's just a scorcher and the even evening is cooler, you know, it depends. I say the only time that really clear-cut makes a huge difference is -- and I think all the players would agree with me, is the U.S. Open. Because the U.S. Open throughout the whole tournament you're playing every other day, and when it comes to the weekend you're playing Saturday and Sunday. And obviously the person who's playing that second match is going to be at a disadvantage because he has less time to rest. And, you know, three out of five sets is tough enough.

Q. Michael, further to answer Bud's question about Pete, from you said, you wouldn't say that Pete is the favorite for the U.S. Open?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't think anyone would be a favorite, to be honest with you. I don't see it. I don't see -- I don't see someone as being the favorite. I think in a sense like Thomas Muster, for example, last year at the French Open, I mean winning everything, obviously he's the clear-cut favor. But this year, I don't think anyone is.

Q. Thank you.


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