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September 6, 1992

Michael Chang


Q. So Michael, the fourth round has kind of been a stopping point for you. You are here again; how do you feel about that?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, you got to get there before you can go on, so it is nice to at least get to the fourth round, in one of the four Grand Slams I played this year. I think that being seeded four has helped me in the draw somewhat, instead of having the draw-- whether Stefan Edberg in round 16 or tougher match, I think that, in turn, has helped me out quite a bit. But I think Tuesday will still be a very tough match, regardless of who I play. I lost to Washington earlier this year, and Leconte, depending on how he plays, it could be very dangerous.

Q. Do you feel like you are kind of slipping through the draw the way you liked to? Maybe not drawing a lot of attention, but still haven't lost a set. You must feel like things are going okay?

MICHAEL CHANG: Normally, in a Grand Slam tournament I think that most of the players, top players, who kind of like to slip through on a quiet side; reason being is that it is tough if you are always the focus of attention for a long period of time, every day, and you know, it is tough, playing in a place like New York, and seven tough matches and people always talking about you, it is tough because it puts a lot of pressure on yourself, and just makes it more difficult, I think. I think it also, maybe, depends on the personalities.

Q. Does it suit your personality?

MICHAEL CHANG: It suits my personality well.

Q. When you say tough being the focus of attention regardless, you go into the TV booth; you do this, you come in here. What is the difference between being the focus of attention and not being the focus of attention? You are saying you are not the focus of attention here, and here you are and there you were. I don't understand what the difference is.

MICHAEL CHANG: I think when you talk about being the focus of attention is like when you are coming to the U.S. Open, you see people say "who are the favorites that are going to win." The women's side you have Seles, Graf, Capriati. On the men's side, going into this U.S. Open, you have Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi coming off of Wimbledon.

Q. Pre-expectations?

MICHAEL CHANG: I guess so.

Q. Do you find for yourself, as far as emotion and adrenaline, whatever, that at Grand Slams it starts and builds, or is it kind of a bumpy roller coaster thing where you come in; it is exciting; you have to get settled and you have to settle down and then it gets big again? How does it go for you? Is it always the same or does it always change?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think it changes all the time. It really depends on how tough your early rounds are, you know, how the tournament goes for you. I mean, if a guy like Jimmy Connors last year started off up high, stayed up there, you know, it varies for each guy. Few players I have had -- have had difficulty in the first, second, third round matches. Other players haven't had it so tough. So it depends.

Q. Michael, does the French Open title still have any affect on you at all, in terms of being confident or pressure or anything at all?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think what has helped me -- I think that the French Open has very good points, more good points than bad points, but I think in turn, you know, I won the French Open. I think I went into the French Open ranked 19th. I came out of it ranked number 6. A week later, I was ranked 5. I think, in a sense, it has taken me a little while to say, you know, I deserve to be in the top ten without having one tournament bringing me there. I feel that now that I have won three tournaments this year, you know, I have gotten back to the top ten, gotten back into the top five. In turn, it has given me confidence to say that I am improving. It is not just a one shot thing where I am, bang, all of a sudden I am in there. It has been a gradual thing, and I think that, in turn, has given me a little confidence.

Q. Was it ever arbitrage trying to live up to it?

MICHAEL CHANG: Not so much to live up to it, but I think it was difficult being at such a young age to go in the following year as a defending champion, I was, like, out for, like, two months at the beginning of the year because I fractured my hip. I hadn't won a match on clay. I played five matches, three tournaments, one exhibition. I hadn't won a single match on clay, and you know, it is just very, very difficult going in. I think that was probably the most difficult part of it. I have learned a lot from the French Open. The year after, I think it has really helped me to mature, put things into proper perspective, and to really know what I want to be in the game of tennis.

Q. Do you consider your year a good year, Michael, or has it been missing that big win or something here in the Slams so far?

MICHAEL CHANG: It has been kind of a strange year, because I have performed well. I haven't had a very good claycourt season. I performed well on the hardcourts. I have three titles, but then I haven't done all that well in the Grand Slams. Last year, I didn't do as well as in the smaller tournaments, but I did fairly well in the Grand Slams. It is tough to say, I think it is a matter of just persevering it to really keep working on my game, and knowing that if I keep working on it, it should only get better.

Q. Talking about the expectations that are put on other people, what do you put on yourself coming into this and at this point what expectations do you have for yourself? What kind of pressures do you feel internally?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't feel that much pressure coming into this year's U.S. Open. I think that I have learned that if you put added pressure on yourself it creates more heart ache, creates more headache too, you know. I think that my mentality now is to train as best I can; to work hard; go out and give it my best. I am hoping that it is something better than the round of 16, and you know, that is really all I can do. I have said that I can only give my best? 100%, that is all I can give, doesn't it also mean something more beyond that, that is what you-- that is what everybody does for every tournament, but for the Open, don't you have to raise that expectation or raise that a little bit? No, you have to peak well, I think. It is not that you raise the expectations, it is that if you work hard, you peak well. Your confidence level is up, and therefore it gives you a certain -- just -- I don't know, I don't know. There is something-- if you notice the top players, there is something different about a Grand Slam and a smaller tournament. Why are they sometimes getting upset in smaller tournaments when they come to the Grand Slams, they are up and ready to go. They are playing their best tennis. There is a reason for that. I think it is part of self pride. Knowing that is a big one. Knowing that you have to give it your all, no matter what the case.

Q. You talked a little bit about after the French Open title, really believing that you could be a top ten player; that you were a top ten player. Just to follow up on an earlier question, how important is doing very, very well at a place like this - we are in the Grand Slam, - to you in terms of your own view of yourself? Obviously it is not necessarily going to affect the rankings because you are still like the top 5. How important in terms of how you believe in yourself?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think how much you believe in yourself has really played a very, very important role, I think in any one's life. The reason being is that your mind -- tennis in such a mind game, you really wouldn't see it out in the tennis court. You think it is just backhands and forehands and big serves. Actually it is your mind that puts everything together. If your mind is not there, it doesn't matter how good you are or how talented you are, you are not going to be out there and play your best tennis. I think that if your mentality is that you can go out and win a tournament or beat a particular player, you have a much, much better chance. You may not accomplish it, but you have a better chance of doing it. I know that that is probably one of the major differences between some of the top guys and some of the players ranked a little bit lower, is that how much self confidence you have; how much confidence you have in yourself. It is not so much of a cockiness or conceitedness, it is more of, I guess an assurance of like I am one of the best in the world, and I deserve to be here, and you know, it is, I think, not just tennis, in everything,.

Q. Is that the way you think of yourself, Michael now and if so was there a point where you said I deserve to be here; I have that assurance?

MICHAEL CHANG: I must say when I first came out on the tour if I got to the round of 16, I was like-- in a sense I was kind of satisfied. It is great being in the round of last 16 in the draw. But now that you know, I have grown, I have grown up a little bit more; I matured a little bit more. I see that my peers are doing well; Courier is ranked one, Sampras is ranked 3. They are out there doing well in the Grand Slams. My attitude has changed towards a Grand Slam. It is no longer like let us hope to get to the rounds of 16. Now, it is like, let us go out and let us give this the best shot because I think that you have a chance to win.

Q. If you don't get as far as-- let us say, beyond the round of 16 or you haven't had a great Grand Slam season, will you really feel that you are a top 5 player or should be viewed as a top a player regardless of the rankings, I mean, just internally?

MICHAEL CHANG: Yes. Yeah, I think that -- that is a good question. I think that it is very important to do well in the Grand Slams. That is -- let us face it, it is very important to do well in the Grand Slams. Some years you are not going to be able to perform as well. But then again, you know, when there comes times like these, you have to have your head down. You have got to persevere at it, you have got to go through it. If you keep working at it-- Lendl is a great example, when are you going to win the U.S. Open. Lost 3 straight finals. He persevered at it, and he is able to accomplish it. I have been taught to keep fighting and you know, regardless of what happens. I may lose the first round; I have lost Wimbledon last -- last two years first round. I am going back. Can't do any worse, so you know, you got to keep working at it.

Q. How do you see the first three rounds helping you in the process of --

MICHAEL CHANG: First three rounds has helped me to advance. I mean, if you don't get by the first three you can't play anymore. But I think that it helps the top players normally -- I think that it helps me in the sense that I have got three matches under my belt, and only as the tournament goes on and as you play more and more, and as you get out there more, whether it is the stadium or grandstand or whatever, everything becomes more, I guess, familiar in a sense, and you feel much more comfortable out there than, let us say, the first couple of rounds.

Q. Michael, Agassi said that-- he said it several times that Wimbledon validated him. Is it that simple? I mean, did the French validate you to win the French? Is it that simple or is it an ongoing process?

MICHAEL CHANG: Well, I think that -- I think that in Andre's situation you know, I think it is tough because you know Andre has gotten to as high as number 3 in the world. He has lost a few Grand Slam finals. It is tough because obviously people are going to say "when are you going to win one." That puts a heck of a lot of pressure on someone. I think that when you do accomplish it, it takes quite a bit of pressure off yourself, and I think that -- in Andre's case probably it was a little bit more difficult, because Andre is always in the spotlight; regardless of, I don't know, it is just the way he is. He is always in the spotlight. And if you had a big crowd, you can still spot him. So you know, I think that for me it's a little bit different because in a sense, I didn't reach the top before I won the French Open, and I think in a sense, for me, I am happy with the way that it went; that I you know, won at an early age because I felt that it was a difficult time, but I felt that it was also a time that you know, I was taught a lot. I think that in a sense I went through a few rough periods. I fractured my hip. I was going in as the defending champion, and I thought that all of it was a blessing, although, you know a lot of it was very, very hard. A lot of trials. You got to keep your head up, and keep moving.

Q. Michael, obviously you name is bantered around when people talk about potential winners of the French. Yet, you have always considered yourself a hardcourter. You have one three hardcourts. I wonder if you fancy your chances at the U.S. Open as much as your chances in the French?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think that this particular year, having the way that -- the way that the beginning of the year went, I would have said that my chances are better at the Open than at the French. I won three titles. I think San Francisco was kind of like a hard court. It was new surface Barry put out. The Lipton and Indian Wells, you know, Hong Kong out to the finals, in the Santori, I lost in the semi finals. Clay, I was struggling a little bit. I lost second round in Hamburg, got to the quarters of Rome. Great results going in. You know, but, you know, I think is that now, you look at it, I have done better at the U.S. Open than the French, so I think that it was tough kind of getting out of that, "Michael Chang, clay court specialist." I think that my game has helped me to, to kind of do that, to help me become more aggressive, and the hard courts you kind of have to do that, because guys are serving big and they are hitting big shots. On clay, kind of neutralizes that. It is kind of frustrating for me on the clay now because the balls are kind of slow and I am used to on the hard courts coming from the hard courts, you know, hit and go, hit and go. Clay, I will be like hitting and watching the passing shot go by me. It is becoming more and more difficult. It is a totally different game, clay courts and hard courts, totally different. I mean, you would not believe how different it is. I mean, totally different. I think it is another sport almost.

Q. You said you have a chance here; you feel like you have a chance here to win?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think I have a chance.

Q. Have you come in here before feeling that you could win here or is this the first time because of the success you have had earlier in the year, your ranking so forth?

MICHAEL CHANG: Honestly, tell you the truth, I think of all the years that I played the Open, this year I feel that I have the best chance of winning it of the years that I have played. That doesn't mean that I will win it. I am not going to put myself in that position, but I feel that I have learned quite a bit, and you know, I think that first thing is important.

Q. I take it from USA interview in there that you believed that Courier and Sampras, yourself, Becker, Agassi, Lendl, all have an equal chance of winning?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't think that -- I don't think that the Grand Slams are really -- I don't know, lately the past couple of years, they have really been surprises. They really haven't gone according to plan. I think that nowadays you have to not only take into consideration the top three, but you have to also take into consideration the other players as well. Lendl has been there before. Becker has been there before. Andre has been at the finals coming off Wimbledon, winning there, it is giving him added confidence to go out and say, I have done it now. I have won a Grand Slam. Where is the next one. A lot of players out there who are capable of winning. It is tough to pinpoint one.

Q. Thank you very much.

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