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August 10, 1996

Michael Chang


GREG SHARKO: As many of you know Michael is appearing in his fourth straight final here. He has won 18 of his last 19 matches going back since 1993. And he also takes a 14 match winning streak on the ATP Tour this year into tomorrow's final. He is 6 and 10 lifetime against Agassi, but he has won 2 of the 3 meetings this year. First question for Michael.

Q. Talk about how the match went the peaks and the valleys?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, I don't know if we necessarily really had peaks and volleys. It was more like is mountains and higher mountains and higher mountains - if that is possible. I don't know, it is just a tough match overall and, you know, we are just really going at it and bombing away and you know, I think first set got off to a really good start. Second set Thomas really bounced back and third set things started coming back my way, so, you know, just really tough match overall. I think that the score is actually kind of assumed that kind of -- as if they it would come easy sets. They really weren't. Really a lot of tough points and tough games. Just pleased with pulling it out tonight and just blessed with some great play, so...

Q. How does it feel to finally get a win on him?

MICHAEL CHANG: It feels good. It feels great. Thomas is a tough, tough competitor. I played him three times last year, and we had a strange match in Philadelphia. I was wondering if today was going to be a little bit strange too and he got me pretty good the last two times, so to be able to come out and come out on top feels great.

Q. After the way you dominated the first set, did you expect a fight from him in the second? Did you expect him to come back like he did?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yes, I did. I think you can pretty expect that from all the Swedes. It is very characteristic of them. They are just not one to keel over and say, okay, too good. They are really going to fight their way through and, you know, I played a lot of Swedes over the years and they are all like that. So yeah, I definitely expected it. And he started to play tougher in the second set.

Q. Andre's press conference this afternoon he said that the most satisfying wins for him are against Pete and then you. Are the wins that you get against Andre are as satisfying?

MICHAEL CHANG: Always. I think that whenever you are able to beat Andre, obviously, it is a great win. I think that Andre has always had a lot of talent. I think over the last few years he has lived up to that talent and really showed the world what kind of tennis that he can play. So, you know, obviously to beat him, whether he is ranked 28 in the world, or whether he is ranked No. 1 is a great win.

Q. Have you done anything differently in your mental training or physical training at all that would explain what you have done the past month or two?

MICHAEL CHANG: Pray more - to be honest with you, just really after I lost early in Wimbledon really sat down and with the family and really discussed things and, you know, because it is a really a team effort. It is not just me out there playing, but it is a team effort. It is Carl coaching and Diane supporting and my mom and dad supporting and helping take care of the business aspect of things and on top of that, you know, the Lord is really our bond, so just really try to sit down and really think things through, what things are we doing good and things that we are not doing good and in what ways -- how we can, you know, go out and accomplish the Lord's will better, so I don't know, the last few weeks have just been, you know, pretty relaxing for me, just been a great deal of peace and I am just going out and I am playing. I am having a great time playing and not worried about the winning and losing and not worry about No. 1; the points or this and that - just feels great to just be out there and, you know, it is exciting when the crowd gets into it and that atmosphere is there and I feel, win or lose, you can walk off the court still feeling good.

Q. Do you feel like you had lost that ability to relax on the court?

MICHAEL CHANG: A little bit. I think that it was something that, you know, I dealt with a little bit earlier in the year because I had an opportunity to really become No. 1 in a sense. I wasn't that far pointswise and there was about a two month period where I really struggled. I struggled; had a few injuries and didn't do as well; didn't have a very good French, didn't have a very good Wimbledon and a couple of other tournaments and you know, I think I started to think too much about becoming No. 1 instead of just going out and doing what I needed to do. So it is constantly a learning process. This is my ninth year on Tour and I am still learning.

Q. Does tomorrow's match strike you -- the two of you both come back from the French and Wimbledon and taken off on the hard court and, you know, (Inaudible.)

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't know whether it is interesting because of that, but it is just interesting because Andre and I are so different. We, in a sense, we play similar games, but we really don't and we are very different as far as personalitywise, so, you know, I think that that always makes for a very exciting match. I think in this day and age of tennis, so.....

Q. The obvious, but how are you different personalitywise? Probably a dumb question.

MICHAEL CHANG: Before Andre used to have more hair than me and now he has less hair than me, but, you know, I think that actually I have more hear on my body now (LAUGHTER). Actually we are just very different. I mean, Andre is -- obviously he is very much kind of a showman type of player, type of personality. I think that in many ways you can put Andre not just as a very charismatic tennis player, but a charismatic person. People that still don't know tennis are able to identify with the name Andre Agassi. I think, for me, I am a little bit more reserved, you know, I definitely like to keep things more on a private level and probably just, generally speaking, I think maybe just a lot more conservative.

Q. Wasn't that a difference that was always there -- (Inaudible.) You guys first came out and you kind of were friends, is that just because you were just Americans and about the same age and it seemed comfortable?

MICHAEL CHANG: Andre and I have always been friends to a point. We have never been best friends; never been really good friends. But we have always been friends. Obviously when you are on the tennis court that friendship is put aside, you know, but there have been times in the past when maybe Andre said some things that maybe, you know, reregretted to say, but I think that is part of Andre's personality and I think a lot of times maybe what he says he doesn't necessarily mean, but, you know, I have known Andre for a long time. I have known him since he was ten years old, since he stayed at my house playing a junior tournament, so we go back quite aways.

Q. If a win against Andre is absolutely a big win, is a loss to him more frustrating than somebody else?

MICHAEL CHANG: Not necessarily. I mean, I don't -- I think to me it really depends -- as long as I go out there and give it my best I can walk off the court whether I have won or lost and still feel good. Obviously, you always want to be able to come out on top against a guy of Andre's caliber and particularly that he is -- I don't think I have ever beaten him in the juniors and until professionals and Andre has beaten me a few more times, so it is -- it would be nice to be able to, you know, to give him back a few, so --

Q. He said that to beat you he has to be -- he said it requires so much persistence and requires discipline and focus and all that. What do you feel like it takes to beat Andre?

MICHAEL CHANG: Is that all he said? Did he say more?

Q. Requires that discipline and focus, that commitment and you have to dig down pretty deep when you walk off the court, you know you feel pretty good about it. Michael likes to get the guys by beating themselves.

MICHAEL CHANG: Turn the page. Can I get a copy of that transcript? I don't know if that is that is the case anymore. I don't think I go out there and guys lose matches to me. I'd say maybe before that was the case many years back, because I have played more of a defensive style of tennis. I don't think you can really say that now. Yeah, so, I think that obviously to beat Andre you got to be playing solid tennis overall.

Q. Do you think despite what the rankings would say, Andre Agassi would be the man to beat in the world on hard courts -- (Inaudible.)

MICHAEL CHANG: It is hard to say. It is hard to say because he obviously had a great summer, but Pete still won the U.S. Open and, you know, obviously to win big events like here in Cincinnati and in the Canadian Open and stuff, so I think there are, you know, quite a few guys who are just playing some great tennis and pretty much you have seen them all year, except for Boris, so yeah, I really think it is a wide open summer and it is a wide open U.S. Open. It has been that way for all the Grand Slams. I don't think New York is going to be an exception to that.

GREG SHARKO: Anything else for Michael?

Q. You say your games are -- if I heard right earlier -- the same, but kind of different. What can the fans expect to see tomorrow? You guys have played so many times. You know each other pretty well. You say you don't play defensive game, are you going to be attacking each other do you think? What can the fans expect to see?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think definitely a lot of aggressive play, you know, I am the type of player I don't think I am going to -- if I come out and I play just expect Andre to lose it to me, it is too hard to do that. So for me, I have to play defensive tennis where I am forced to and from thereafter just play aggressive tennis; play my style of game, which is, you know, going out and taking it to the guy, so, you know, in a sense, I kind of feel that the fans have a pretty good idea of what the match is going to be like, having watched us play over the years and seeing our games improve and evolve, so that is one of the wonderful things about being a fan here in Cincinnati is you see all these great players come through year after year and you see them improve and you see new faces pop up, so, you know, just a really great tournament to be able to be a part of that, without actually having to go necessarily go to a Grand Slam.

Q. Much was made of Pete and Andre having a rivalry. Would Andre be your biggest rival?

MICHAEL CHANG: You know, I really think that all the top 4 Americans have had great rivalries against each other; there are just a lot of great rivalries. I think obviously Pete and Andre have, last couple of years, had theirs and has definitely stood out because they were playing such great tennis and they were fighting so much for No. 1 and they were so much ahead of the rest of the pack, but things are changing a little bit now and people are starting to take notice of a lot of the other rivalries, so yeah, very exciting time in men's tennis.

GREG SHARKO: Okay. Michael is now 14 and 2 his matches played in the third set here and also the 11th time in the last twelve years he has been in a top 10 final.

End of FastScripts….

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