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March 13, 1996

Michael Chang


Q. Stefan said he thought the first game in the second and third sets were, you know, real keys to the match. You got the breaks both times and got out in front.

MICHAEL CHANG: First game in the second and third?

Q. Yes.

MICHAEL CHANG: Let me see. I think I got the first break on the second game, actually, when he served in the second set.

Q. Yeah, his first service game.

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, I think that that is very true. I think that, you know, the first set was pretty tight. I mean, he started off and had a breakpoint in the first game of the match and then had had a couple of breakpoints; at 3-4 he was serving and wasn't able to convert, and he got that break the next game, and I think first set was pretty close and the second set was still, you know, only one break. So he had a few chances to get that break back and wasn't able to convert, so I think that those games were definitely very crucial. I totally agree with Stefan, so fortunately, those games went my way and I was able to take advantage of the opportunities.

Q. Has he lost a lot?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't think he has lost a lot. I think today, as a match, you can still see that he covers the net well; still serves well, and still volleys, really, really well. I don't think that he has lost a whole lot. I think that in certain regards, the game has sped up quite a bit. I think that the thing that kind of worked against Stefan, you know, I think is that a lot of guys are just serving so big now and Stefan really, you know, takes -- I think he uses his serve so much in a way that is like -- that is placing the ball and not so much power and when a guy -- when a lot of the guys see that, you know, his first serve is coming in at 105, 110 miles per hour, they see it a lot better and because they are just used to seeing such faster serves and maybe they are able to pick it up a little bit better, but, you know, I don't think Stefan has lost a whole lot. For goodness sake, the guy is only 29.


MICHAEL CHANG: 30. If you start thinking that you start losing it at 30, what is that going to mean for all of us? Shoot, I am 24 years old; make me feel like in another six years that, you know, I am not going to be able to play the game anymore. I mean, that is ridiculous. I think, you know, it is hard to say, but Stefan is still playing some tough tennis. I think that he just feels that he needs for himself, he needs something, he needs to move on.

Q. You went through last year with a greatly improved serve. Now that everyone has got a good look at it and has adjusted to it, is it less of a weapon because players are accustomed to it now?

MICHAEL CHANG: Not necessarily. I think as long as I keep on improving it; if I am able to constantly improve my serve and be able to place my serve well, you know, it doesn't really matter. I mean, guys, for instance, have seen Pete Sampras' serve for I don't know how many years and they still have a tough time returning it. Just he is able to, you know, to pinpoint shots very well. I think that if you have a particular pattern on your serve where you only can hit one spot on each side, then, you know, guys are definitely going to pick up on that. Once a guy knows in the locker room, everybody knows, so they are just sitting there waiting for it. But I think, for me, I am trying to work on, you know, on a lot of different serves so that I have -- so the guys aren't accustomed to, okay, he is going to go this way or this way. So if I am able to hit it well, it is going to set up the point well for me.

Q. How are you looking forward to the French Open this year, and maybe making that next step against someone like Muster?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, the French Open, at this particular stage, is a little bit far for me. I think that, you know, the clay court season is still a few months away, and, you know, for me, it is important to concentrate on these tournaments. I mean, these are really, really big tournaments and then come clay court season will definitely be trying to peak for the French Open. But then again, as far as the French Open is concerned, you can't just worry about Muster. Obviously, Muster is going to be probably the favorite to win this year, but you can't just say, well, if I get by Muster, I am okay; I am going to win the tournament because there are a lot of other guys who are capable of winning the tournament and a lot of dangerous clay court players; particularly all the Spanish. Just the Spaniards. I mean, you can mention any single one of them and they are great clay court players, so, you know, it is a little bit far at this stage, but, you know, when it comes time to it, I will....

Q. Let me follow-up on that point, you are building your season around the 4 Grand Slams; you are going from hard to clay or whatever. How can someone like you and maybe Agassi or Becker overcome the odds of someone like a Muster or Bruguera whose season really is built around the clay court and are predominantly playing on clay court?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, probably play better tennis than him (laughter).

Q. You don't feel you are at a disadvantage that you are playing on all kind of different surfaces year-round and those guys are playing predominantly clay court?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, the reason I say that because there is ample time to prepare for the French Open. The only time that I would feel a little bit not prepared, ill-prepared is maybe Wimbledon because for me, you know, I will play a little bit from the back and maybe mostly from the back and two weeks doesn't give me a whole lot of time to prepare for that. For the other guys, serve and volleyers, they just need to worry about their footing. They serve. They volley; the ball doesn't bounce; doesn't have to worry about getting used to the bounce of the court except on return and the points are very short. That is the only thing that is maybe difficult for me as far as preparing for a Grand Slam event, maybe not quite feeling as prepared, but as far as the French Open, I have got, you know, at least a good month maybe a little bit more than that to prepare and that, for me, is ample time.

Q. Are you going to be playing Davis Cup against Croatia?

MICHAEL CHANG: Czechoslovakia.

Q. Yeah.


Q. You have told Tom that?

A. Tom knows.

Q. How do you look back on your rivalry with Stefan?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, it is funny to say because I am 24 years old and I can say "we go back a long ways." You know, I think that Stefan -- I think we have had a lot of great matches. I think he has won a few more than I have, but we have definitely had our fair share of great matches. I think maybe had he known that the French Open final would be as crucial as it was, you know, the one Grand Slam that he is missing, I think maybe would have even tried harder if that was possible in that particular match. But, you know, I don't know if people see me as somebody who kind of took that away from Stefan, but, you know, he has had his had opportunities where, you know, he has beaten me and gone on to win a Grand Slam title. Actually, on a few occasions, did it, I think, Wimbledon and U.S. Open on a couple of occasions, so we just had a lot of great matches. Been a lot of fun to play against Stefan because, you know, he is a class act on and off the court and you know he is going to give you his all and, you know, I am sure that I am going to be running into him probably later in the year, so, you know, always a tough competitor.

End of FastScripts.......

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