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August 29, 1994

Michael Chang


Q. As opening matches go, how would you say this one was?

MICHAEL CHANG: It was a good match for me. The conditions were a little bit tough today. I think it was a little bit of the delay of rain and a little bit windy out there as well, but you know, I think overall, I am pleased with the way that it went. So, hopefully, my play will get better as the tournament goes on.

Q. What did you do better in the last two sets that you didn't do quite as well in the first?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think in the first set I actually was up. I had a chance to close the match out at 5-3. I was actually serving for it there, and it kind of got away from me. And I think from there I was able to be a little bit more consistent on my shots and I was wasn't making as many errors, I think, and I think that cut down a lot of the points that I lost. So, overall, that was pretty much the difference.

Q. Michael, you have played some of your best tennis this summer on the hard courts and with the win in Cincinnati and certainly as the summer has progressed, do you find that you battle the image of the claycourter even though that -- some of your early wins at the French; that that is something that you have to fight off all the time?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think in this point in time, I don't think I have to fight that image off anymore. I think for two years after the French Open in '89, I think I was pretty much geared that I was a clay court player. But I think that the people who knew me best, the guys who I grew up playing with, and people that have seen me grow up from the juniors that I grew up playing on the hard courts, and even though the French Open came in '89, clay was still relatively a new surface to me. I've only really been playing on clay for -- since -- probably since '88, actually, because as a junior I just didn't play a whole lot on clay. So I think nowadays, I don't think people see me so much as a clay courter or any real -- any particular surface player. The reason being is that my results have come on a wide variety of surfaces and I think a majority of them on hard court.

Q. How wide open is this particular draw at the moment?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think this Open is very wide open, you know, with a few players injured and Goran already losing, it is, I think, once again -- even last couple of years was very wide open as well. So there is just no clear-cut favorite. I think had Pete played the summer and dominated everything, that he obviously would have been a clear-cut favorite. Pete hasn't been playing a whole lot and everybody knows that when you take a certain amount of time off from the Tour, it takes a little bit of time to get back. That is something that everybody is kind of waiting to see how Pete is playing; how he is hitting the ball. I am sure a few guys that do play him are going to test that ankle a little bit, make him move a little bit more. So, other than that, there are just a whole handful of guys that are quite capable of winning this year.

Q. If you had to pick one aspect of your game that you worked on most copiously -- seems the serve has has vastly improved. Is it true that you have taken time time in particular areas whereas now you have 13, 14 aces; where in the past that was not true?

MICHAEL CHANG: Serve, I have definitely tried to improve over the last few years, just because the games quickened up so much. And I think, you know, a lot of times quite, a few years back, I had to work so hard to earn my points on my own serve, and I think now it is becoming a heck of a lot easier to hold serving if I am able to get one or two free points, if the guy is not going to get my serve back or if it is an ace, regardless, still worth the point. So I think that that has helped me out quite a bit, but everything else needs to work as well. Everybody knows that if you serve big, you still have to play. The other parts of your game have to be working in order to win, and I think still -- my strength is still my groundstrokes and from there I'm just going to base everything around my strength.

Q. Michael, have you made technical changes in your serve or is it a question of are you just stronger?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I have been practicing my serving a lot more and, you know, Carl has been making a few minor changes here and there, and I think that I have been working on trying to get a little bit stronger as well and I think it is starting to pay off. So --

Q. Michael, is one of the keys to your possible success here your ability to avoid those grueling five-set matches, you know, round after round, so by the time presumably you got near the end, you wouldn't be exhausted?

MICHAEL CHANG: That is kind of hard to say because two years ago I had -- in the round of 16 I had a five-setter and in the quarters I had a five-setter and in the semis I had a five-setter, so you know, obviously, you want to try to be able to stay as fresh as you can throughout the whole tournament and given an opportunity to win in three sets, you definitely try to do it because you never know when you are going to go through a match and have to play five tough sets in order to win and sometimes that can really hurt you; particularly, in the early goings of a tournament by the time you reach the latter stages of the tournament you are a little bit tired and sometimes it can also affect you the following match; even though the majority of time you have one day off; it can still affect you quite a bit and knowing that if you get into the semis and into the finals - the semis and finals are a Saturday Sunday - so there is no day off there. That is a major factor, you know, definitely on the men's side that everyone takes into consideration.

Q. So the answer is "yes, often," I guess?

MICHAEL CHANG: You try to close them out when you can, definitely. I think that, you know -- obviously when you are forced to go five sets, you do what you can to win the match. If it takes five sets, you got to do it in five sets, but if you can do it in three, it doesn't make sense to try and do it in five.

Q. I was sort of contrasting you with Sampras; dominated quite a few players in the early and middle rounds?

MICHAEL CHANG: I guess everybody does it a little bit differently. I think my matches, generally speaking, take a little bit longer than Pete's anyways. Regardless if I were to win in straight sets and if I were to win in straight sets my matches always take longer just because Pete will serve and volley and Pete will go for his shots a little bit more and hit a lot more-- well, maybe not as many aces now, so that is one good thing, but just things like that. His points tend to be shorter, so his match time will be shorter as well.

Q. Can you comment on the new trends of the game like introducing the music and the 20 seconds?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think actually the music was a trial period. I think it was just that particular tournament. They were doing, I think, the music on as introduction and also on the changeovers. I don't know exactly how well that has actually gone off. So it is something that the ATP will take into consideration whether or not they want to have that.

Q. What are your thoughts about it?

MICHAEL CHANG: For me, I have never played in that kind of atmosphere before. I have had -- I have been introduced to music and I think a lot of the other players have as well. I think that the players like that part of it. As far as, you know, the music on the changeovers, I am not really too sure about it because I don't normally listen to music on the changeovers. Normally they have the announcement and stuff like that, or raffle, things like that, but other than that, it might favor the new generation that comes out and plays.

Q. Among the changes they didn't make, actually, do you have a high or low opinion of the best of 14 rule?

MICHAEL CHANG: To be honest with you, I kind of agree with the majority of the top players, if not all of them, being that I think that it is, you know, kind of unfair in a sense that tennis is a profession and you should take pride in every tournament that you play and I really do think that every tournament should count toward your ranking whether you are able to win a tournament or whether you lose first round; I think every tournament should count. I think majority of the top players feel that way and it has just been really tough over the last few years to find a system, ranking system, that really works because the old system -- under the old system you could -- every tournament counted, but if you were to lose first round, let's say, at the U.S. Open, and come back the following year and there was a chance that if you didn't play, your ranking-- your average would go up; therefore, your ranking would go up. That really didn't work either. So you know, considering that, I think they are really trying to find a ranking system that is very fair for the players who play fewer tournaments but also fair for the players who play quite a few tournaments.

Q. Major League Baseball, to make an analogy, if you lost one baseball game, you are considered bad, but if another team lost two games; you can still go up. In sports, that is a normal-- that is not an irregular way of doing it?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think -- but the thing is I think tenniswise, tennis, I mean, people would say that you know, a player was maybe -- this is like an extreme case, but if a player was healthy to play a major tournament and realized that and if he was in a situation where the No. 1, No. 2 spot was -- could flip-flop, you know, and he were to somehow be injured that week and not play and the other guy were to go and win the tournament and yet because he didn't play, he dropped his points and still became No. 1. So it is just a situation like that, it is kind of a tricky situation, and I know that the ranking system is a tough one to really struggle about, but you know, there are guys out there who are playing 30 plus tournaments and having, you know, maybe like as many as you know, 7, 8, 9, 10 first round losses and not being penalized for it. And to just go out and have 16 free tournaments, I don't think that the players are really too happy about it.

Q. Michael, a question about your serve that you mentioned Carl helped you change it here and there. Can you be more specific about it, reveal what changes you actually made?

MICHAEL CHANG: Just minor changes, as far as you know. . . .

Q. Like what?

MICHAEL CHANG: My motion; the ball toss; just minor things like that.

Q. I would be curious to know, do you toss it higher or lower or do you twist it sort of --

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, everybody has -- has their little tricks, so you know, Goran will hit it on the rise; I will do something different, and few of the other players will do something different, so I know that maybe I will write a book after and I will reveal everything. I am a little bit -- I figure if maybe some of the changes that I made as far as ball toss, things like that, if I am able to hit a serve 117 miles per hour at five foot nine imagine if the other guys made the changes that I did and they are coming in at like six foot six and you never know, I am not going to see the ball anymore.

Q. Was it your discovery or who convinced you?

MICHAEL CHANG: Carl. Carl. Even though I am very stubborn, he is able to convince me a majority of the time and Carl has had a really good influence on my game and on my person, and I am just very thankful he has been my coach for the last few years, because it has definitely really been a blessing.

End of FastScripts...

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