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November 14, 1994

Michael Chang


Q. I understand they have slowed down the court surface as compared to next year.

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, it has slowed down a little bit. I think the last two years the surface was quite fast. It is still the same surface, but I think that because it is a new surface, it seems to be a little bit slower, but it is a good medium-paced surface. I think if you want to play serve and volley, you can do that. You can play in the back, you can do that as well. I think in the last two years it was a little bit too fast.

Q. Do you think that evening it out favors anyone, it opens it up for the field?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think it opens it up, but I think it also makes for a lot more enjoyable matches. I think the points are going to be a little bit longer. I think you are going to see a lot more play from the players rather than some of the big serves because you have got quite a few big servers here.

Q. Instead of Goran and Pete whacking balls you have got a chance, Andre has got a chance, everybody here has got a chance?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think that it just -- I think that even on some of the faster surfaces it doesn't necessarily mean that the baseliners don't have a play, but I think that they have a better chance of breaking the other server and stuff. And, you know, even a couple of years ago when Courier got to the finals the surface was still relatively fast, but he still got to the finals there. But I think it is going to make things a lot more interesting for all the players, not just when a serve and volleyer plays against a baseliner, but when a serve and volleyer plays against another serve and volleyer.

Q. How would you rate this year as compared to the last four years for you?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think over the last few years it is getting better and better. I feel like I am making progress each year, and that, for me, is very important knowing that I am heading in the right direction.

Q. Now, you say you are making progress. You are still adding to your game?

MICHAEL CHANG: I feel like I am improving. I feel like my game is improving. I feel like the resultswise is getting a little bit better each year and I am hoping that -- I think if you look at the new way the ranking system is now, I am not very far from reaching No. 2. In fact, Pete is obviously a little bit ahead of the rest of the field at the moment, but you figure in some instances what goes up must come down. I think that all the guys from that are here from two on are very close. I think -- actually had I won Paris, I think I would have been pretty close to being the No. 3 or No. 2 in the world and same situation here because the undefeated champion here, I think, gets somewhere around 600 something points, I think. So that, by all means, is not out of my range. So I feel like each year is getting better and better, and I feel like my time will come.

Q. Michael, from your point of view, being a so-called baseline player, do you think it is fair to the players who used to play from the baseline that the season's final every year is at such a fast court?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't think so. I think that, you know, throughout the year obviously you do have some faster surfaces, some slower surfaces, but I think the majority of the surfaces still tend to be on the quick side, and I think that they have made the effort, particularly this year, to slow down the court a little bit to give some of the other players a better chance to do better. And I still think that it is good to have the season championships on an indoor surface. I think it is still, on the average, really, throughout the year, the only slow part of the year maybe is the clay court season, other than that, the grass court season is very fast, hard court season is very fast and indoor season is very fast, so...

Q. You wouldn't suggest a change in surface or --

MICHAEL CHANG: I particularly would not, no. Unless it was something that tended to be, you know, very similar whether indoor hard court, for example, but other than that, I wouldn't change anything.

Q. The public role that you play, I don't want to compare you with Berasategui, but, you know -- for example, what I mean when I say that, people might hope to have all the serve and volleyers playing this year in the contest, how does it affect you? Is it something that doesn't matter at all for you or are you angry in a way that people are only for the fast players to be here?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think if Germany prefers to have serve and volley players, that is their choice, but I am here. And whether they like the way I play or not is not really up to them. I am here because not only I can play tennis, but I can play against serve and volley players. If I am not capable of doing that, I wouldn't be here, as is for the other players who play from the back, as far as Bruguera, and you know Agassi and Berastegui. So I think that they are still the four players in the other group because a lot of serve and volley there, and I think it is good to see a good mixture of all types of tennis. I think you are going to get that this week.

Q. Are you at all surprised about the run that Andre has had of late?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, not necessarily. I think that in all the players' careers they are going to have times when they are up and times when they are down, and everyone has certain periods of time when they are playing quite well, and obviously, Andre has been able to do that since the Open. And if you can recall, there was a summer where Edberg had unbelievable -- where he had four titles. So it is not surprising to see that at this caliber of tennis because I think all the players here are quite capable of doing that.

Q. What is he doing different now than what he was doing before? I mean, you guys played a lot when you were younger, and what do you see him -- what do you see as the difference in the game from a junior standpoint and now, just in the last say six, eight months?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think that Andre has been able to kind of solidify things a little bit more. I think partly when you think about reaching here, I think that if you are capable of doing well in some of the bigger tournaments, you know, that gives you a good chance to make it here. Obviously, Andre has been playing some good solid tennis. I think he hasn't been giving the other players a whole lot of opportunities to win matches against him. So I think just his play -- his level of play is very high right now.

Q. ATP Final, what does it mean, especially for you, in comparison to Grand Slam tournaments?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think that it is difficult to rate which -- obviously a Grand Slam title is something that is very, very important to all the players, but I think also here in Frankfurt being that you have just the top eight players, I think that that creates for a very special atmosphere, and a unique event in that and that you just have the best players going up against the best players. And I think for me it is -- you are in an elite group when you come here to play in Frankfurt, and I think it is difficult to really compare the two. Obviously here is very, very important, but winning a Grand Slam is also very, very important.

Q. You have six tournaments this year. It was the best season for you in your life?

MICHAEL CHANG: I wouldn't say so. I think as far as titleswise, yes, but I think it is too difficult to compare to 1989 when you win a Grand Slam event. You know, it is difficult to beat that kind of a year, and I think that I feel like each year is getting a little bit better and better. I am hoping that sooner, in the near future the next Grand Slam title will come around.

Q. Any reason of success because of the six winning of the tournaments?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think I am making progress. I think I am improving as a player. I think I am maturing as I play the game. I think I am maturing as a person as well. I think it is all coming into play, and I feel like I am learning a lot and I feel that like God has his timetable and when it comes time for me to do a little bit better, then I will be able to do that. I think the rankings are all very, very close, and if I am capable of winning another big title, it is quite easy to move up to No. 2 or even higher, to No. 1.

Q. Would you please be so kind to judge the other players in your group starting please with Andre Agassi?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think all the players are tough. Obviously no easy players here. Everyone accomplished a lot this year. Andre, I think, is playing very well; particularly through the fall of this year, and I think that his play will probably continue here in Frankfurt. I think that Sergi is a player that last couple of years has learned to play on some of the faster surfaces, not just on clay. I think that has helped him out in many areas, and I think -- I don't think you can really label him anymore as just a clay court player. I think for Alberto this will be a new experience for him. Obviously he is quite capable of playing on clay and winning so many titles on clay and also doing so well at the French Open, and -- but tennis is still tennis, and, you know, obviously he knows how to play the game and he knows how to win in the same time when he is winning seven titles this year. Everybody is playing well. Everybody is, I think, feeling pretty good, so it should really be a fun week.

Q. What about Boris Becker, some other players said he had an unbeatable face; what do you think?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think that I don't exactly know what you mean by unbeatable face. Obviously Boris is coming into his own and I think that when Boris is playing very, very well, when he is at his best, he is a difficult player to beat, and, you know, that is something that we are just going to have to wait and see this particular week; how everyone is playing. But I think that everyone is going to be playing their best tennis. I am sure that Boris will come out playing his best tennis and that's what makes it fun.

Q. Can you please describe your coach, especially his special --

MICHAEL CHANG: Carl, for me, is not just a coach. He is also my brother, and also takes care of a lot of the -- just a lot of other things on the road type of manager in a sense, and it has been working out quite well over the past few years. And I am just very pleased with the way we have been able to work together. And Carl has helped me on many, many areas of my life; not just on the court, but also off the court. And I am just happy to have him travel with me and be as close as we are.

Q. A special situation to be coached by a brother?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think it is. I don't think that you see a whole lot of other situations where you have brothers coaching -- coaching their brothers in tennis. You have a similar situation where Mr. Bruguera coaches Sergi. But other than that, it is pretty much a coach-player relationship. I don't think that there are any family ties involved in the majority of the players, so I think it is very unique. But I think also, at the same time, Carl and I come from the same basic fundamentals, and Carl understands me; he understands me as a person and he understands my game, and for me, what type of game is best for me.

Q. You have some superstitions, some special behavior before the match?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, I am not superstitious, no.

Q. What do you know about Frankfurt?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't know a whole lot about Frankfurt. I know over the past few years I come here and play tennis and just get to see a little bit here and there, but other than that, you know, I think I know maybe the Frankfurt airport, the best out of all of Frankfurt just because you pass by so much when you travel across Europe.

Q. Do you know what apple wine is?


Q. It is a special drink of wine. Have you had it before?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, I don't --

Q. It is a wine produced by apples. You don't know?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't drink so I wouldn't know.

Q. How do you see your chances in your group?

MICHAEL CHANG: I feel pretty good about my chances. I think I am just going to take it match by match, concentrate on my match tomorrow against Sergi, take it from there.

Q. What did you do last week?

MICHAEL CHANG: Actually, I stayed a few more days in Paris and then I came over on Thursday.

Q. Do you want to have the chance to see a little bit of Frankfurt?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think that is difficult for this particular week to go and to see a whole lot of Frankfurt because this tournament here is so important, and I think that I need to be -- you need to be fresh and healthy and strong to play, and I think I do have one day where I wouldn't play, so I will just maybe take that time and maybe go and see a little bit.

Q. Pete often says that he just stays at the hotel if he is not playing and not training. Are you a guy who goes out more often or are you really concentrating on the match and on the training?

MICHAEL CHANG: I am not the type of person that is going to go out a whole lot, not to any discos or anything like that. I think it really depends on the week; obviously, also where I am. If I am not at a place that I am very familiar with and I might go to someplace that I know, a restaurant that is very good, but other than that, I am not going to take chances to go around places that I am not familiar with.

Q. Do you think you can beat Sergi from the baseline?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think it is -- I think for me to play from the baseline is not so much my game anymore. For me, I feel that my game is to be aggressive and to come in when the opportunity presents itself because I think in this day and age it is very difficult to expect to beat best players in the world by just playing from the baseline. I think the court is a little bit faster for me each year, it seems, and players are getting better and players are getting bigger as well. So it is something that I feel that it is important for me to keep my -- (Inaudible.)

Q. Can you compare the surfaces, Paris, Stockholm and Frankfurt?

MICHAEL CHANG: Stockholm wasn't an ideal surface for anybody, I don't think. It was just way to fast and the balls were way to hard. So it is just a tournament -- that particular court just was totally different from the whole year for everybody.

I think Paris was a good medium-paced surface and conditions, I think, are pretty similar to here. It was a little bit different. The balls are the same. And other than that, I think it is pretty close to Paris, a medium-paced surface. I think it is a good surface for all the players.

Q. You played a lot of tournaments in Asia and you are very successful there this year too. Why you play so many tournaments actually?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, Asia, for me, is a very nice place to go to. It is very fun for me. It is very -- I think the atmosphere for me is very good. And also, Asia, for me, is a place that, tenniswise, is booming. And I think, for me, I feel like to be a part of that, to be a part of the tournaments involved there is very important for me too because I feel like I am in a position to create a good -- just a better awareness of tennis there, and more enthusiasm for the game. And for me, it is not a place that I am -- that is difficult for me to get used to. The food is very easy -- the food is very easy and the culture is very easy to get used to. It is not something that I have to get used to, it is somewhere where I can blend in.

Q. Each country would be like -- (Inaudible.)

MICHAEL CHANG: I think that each country has something very, very unique about itself, and I think it is difficult to say which one is better than the other because each country has got something special. So from there, it is -- I kind of like to look at it as just -- I like all the countries that I have played in so far, and I hope over the next few years I will get the chance to play in a few more.

Q. What do people in the United States think about Asian people in America?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think that what is great about America is that you don't have just one set of people. I mean, what is great about America, it is a big melting pot, so you get a chance to learn about different people, different cultures, and get to experience just the way they live and the differences in maybe their food and things like that. So, I feel that what makes America great in many instances, you have so many cultures and so many different people, and it blends in and it is just almost taking the best of the whole world in a sense.

Q. Just the question because sometimes John McEnroe said to Lendl he would be never American because he is from Czechoslovakia?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't agree with that. I think that it is difficult to really define what an American is because an American could be Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, Spanish, Czechoslovakian, it doesn't matter. America has got them all.

Q. You won the '89 French Open but never other Grand Slams title from that time. What do you think --- what do you have to do for the next win?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't think I have to change anything. I feel that for me, my time will come, and I feel like each year I am improving; getting better and better. And, you know, if it is in God's will for me to win another Grand Slam, it will come. I am not worried so much about, you know, the timing or things like that. My job, for me, is just to continue to improve and continue to work hard. I feel that my time will come.

Q. Good luck. If you play against Goran, what would be the tactic for that match?

MICHAEL CHANG: Tactic is as it always is for every match; still constantly attacking, being aggressive, and if my opponent is able to beat me with better shots, on that particular day he is a better player.

Q. I am asking the same question to all eight of you. Looking ahead to '95, if there was one thing in men's tennis that you would like to see changed to improve the game next year, what would it be?

MICHAEL CHANG: That is a little difficult to say. I think that --

Q. I can throw a couple of things that the other players have said. Edberg would like to see more done for the kids off the court. Becker would like to hear people stop asking him what is wrong with the game. That is just two for you. What would Chang's view be?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think it is a combination of -- probably a combination of all. I think there is a lot of things -- there is a lot of things that can always be improved.

Q. But for you, personally, is there one thing that sticks out that particularly would help the image of the sport if it was changed?

MICHAEL CHANG: I particularly would like to see more people around the world be a part of tennis either participating in tennis or picking up the sport because for me, I think in situations like in Asia where the facilities aren't quite available yet, given that opportunity I would like to see them -- (Inaudible.) -- make a lot of friendships and really it is a sport for a lifetime because you have people playing that are as young as two years old and players playing as old as 95 years old. So I would like to see the game expand and get better and better each year.

Q. Michael, about tomorrow's match against Bruguera, what are you expecting for tomorrow for your first match?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I am going to expect tough matches throughout the week. You've got the eight best players here, you have to be playing some of your best tennis in order to do well. And I think tomorrow is going to be a match that you are going to have a lot of long rallies, a lot of tough points, and, you know, I think that other than that, it is just going to be a tough match.

Q. What do you think, in general, about the performance of the Spanish tennis?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think Spanish tennis has been improving definitely over the past few years; not only on the men's side, but also on the women's side. And I think it is good for -- obviously, for Spanish tennis, and, you know, for me it is fine.

Q. Do you think that they are still specialists only on clay or do they -- are they improving? Do you know that they are improving on other surfaces as well?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think that I feel that they are improving on other surfaces. I think Sergi has made a very good change in a sense. I don't think you can really label him anymore as a clay court player because he has done well at Wimbledon this year and also on the hard courts and indoor surfaces, so I think, you know, he is trying to change that, and he has been successful at it. But I think still, to take everything surface by surface, Spanish players are still definitely the best as far as any surface on clay. Their best surface is still clay by far.

Q. Which tournament did you play the best this year?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think Cincinnati, probably.

Q. Last year too?

MICHAEL CHANG: Last year Cincinnati was a good tournament for me.

Q. Maybe this is your favorite tournament?

MICHAEL CHANG: Cincinnati? No. I think it is one of my favorites, but I think there are a lot of tournaments that I enjoy, but of this particular year, I would probably have to say Cincinnati.

Q. What do you mean this year it was better than the last year?

MICHAEL CHANG: No, I am just saying from week-to-week I have had some weeks where I played good tennis and some weeks where I played not so good tennis, and some weeks where I played great, great tennis. So...

Q. What is your opinion about the Davis Cup team? What is happening this year?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think that for next year, I think that it is going to be up to Tom to decided the team. I think that in a sense, everybody is on the team because you have so many good players from the United States, and I think it is a matter of getting the team together in a sense. Obviously I think that if you -- if you were to put everybody on that team it would almost be a very, very, very difficult team to beat, so it is just something that we are just going to have to wait and see how things go next year.

Q. Are you playing?

MICHAEL CHANG: I am considering it.

Q. Are you happy with the draw this week?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yeah, I think it suits me fine.

Q. People are describing your group as the easier group, saying that you and Agassi -- (Inaudible.)

MICHAEL CHANG: I think that if you were to take the same group and put it on clay, you know, we would be the tough group, so it depends on how you look at it. I think that everybody here is tough, and I don't think you can say that one group is tougher than the other. Maybe because it is an indoor surface, you know, it may tend to favor some of the bigger serve and volleyers. I think that there are players -- Andre has proved this year and I think that I have proved over the past few years that we can play on indoor courts. It is not something that is very foreign to us and it is not something that, you know, handicaps us by any means.

Q. Generally, how do you go into a week like this? Do you go in with a serious hope of winning the championship or do you hope to do as well as you can but no realistic goal of winning?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't go in with the mentality to just go in and do as well as I can. I go in with the mentality to win this title because for me not going in with that attitude is -- it makes no sense for me to be here at all. So I feel that I'm quite capable of doing that, and I think of all the players there isn't a player here that I have not beaten before, so for me, it is a matter of having that mentality, that attitude, and going out and accomplishing it.

Q. Are you conscious that it is at the end of the season or are you like Sampras, complaining there isn't any break, it is just non-stop?

MICHAEL CHANG: For me, I think in some years, obviously if you have had a very difficult year, physically you can feel that very much like it is the end of the year, but I think I have spaced my scheduling out much better this year than previous years where I don't feel fatigued, I don't feel very tired coming into this event like some players felt in the past or maybe even this week. So that, for me, is going to be very, very important because you need to be fresh coming into here. Obviously every match is going to be tougher and each match is going to take a lot out of you, so although you may think that it is indoor tennis, it might not matter physical conditioning, but in this case, being the end of the year, it always matters.

Q. Who is the favorite?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't think there is a favorite.

Q. Michael, if there is a rule that you would like to change for 1995, which one would you change; rackets, balls, points system, ranking system, whatever?

MICHAEL CHANG: I would probably -- somehow I'd probably want to change probably somehow the ranking system in the context that you have so many tournaments that don't count. I don't like that idea because I feel like tennis is a profession and each tournament you should take pride in what you do. I think they have had other systems where it wasn't the best 14 in the rankings still came out very similar, so the best -- the title best 14 and everything after that doesn't count, it kind of -- it doesn't sound good.

Q. Because majority of players here have the same opinion, but it doesn't change, what does that mean? The players most of them give an opinion that the system doesn't change?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, there has been a lot of talk recently. The difficult thing is that the ranking system is a tricky thing because it is not where you can -- it is not easy to find a system that works for everybody; for players who want to play a certain amount of events or players that want to play maybe 30 plus events, so, you know, I think in a system that is very fair for all the players, players that win the Grand Slam events, players that do well in the bigger tournaments, there is a lot of discussion as far as how many points for which tournament; what size tournament, so it is not an easy thing to say, okay, we will take away the best 14 and bring in -- (Inaudible.) It is something that is going to take time.

Q. You think there is a chance that it doesn't stay the way it is now?

MICHAEL CHANG: There is a chance. I think there is always -- people are always looking to improve things. If you can improve things; by all means, you try to do it. It doesn't make sense to just sit around and just be content the whole time because things change and situations change and sometimes you have to change things for the better.

Q. You are suggesting by this I mean, which direction would you go changing the ranking system, what would you suggest?

MICHAEL CHANG: I would somehow make it so that each tournament that you play counts, somehow.

Q. Perhaps in different ways?

MICHAEL CHANG: Different ways. But I just don't like the idea where if the player plays, you know, a player plays 30 something tournaments that 16 tournaments don't count. It just doesn't make sense.

Q. That is very good, to give different points to different tournaments --

MICHAEL CHANG: I think that -- it is just because it is a profession; you should take pride in everything, every time you step on the court you take pride in what you do.

Q. Be more serious?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't feel like there is a whole lot of tanking or anything like that, but I think that still there needs to be a pressure factor too because if players go out and they play their best 14 and some of the players who I think were ranked a little bit lower to have a little bit more freedom to just go out and play knowing that there is nothing that they can lose as far as their ranking; they can't drop in their ranking because they lose to maybe a player who is ranked a top 10 player, so, you know, for them, it just takes a lot more pressure off them, and for me, I feel like there should always be some kind of pressure somewhere, I mean, from somewhere that you can lose something if you don't perform.

End of FastScripts....

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