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September 2, 1992

Michael Chang


Q. Are you satisfied with the performance today?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think it wasn't bad for a first rounds match. I think that I probably wouldn't have won it a little bit after the lapse in a first set. I was up 2 breaks and I had a game to go, 4-Love, actually, two game points, 40-15. I think that in that situation, I have to keep my head in a little bit better. I think I have to be a lot more careful next time, because, you know, I could have lost the first set. I think it was. I'll take a lot from this match, and apply it in the rest of the tournament.

Q. Michael, you are seeded number 4 here. You have won three tournaments recently. To what do you attribute your improvement?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think it is probably, you know, working on my game, persevering at it and realizing that when you work on certain aspects of your game that they are not going to come overnight. That you have to keep working at them and it is going to take, you know, quite some time. In my case it has been about a year and a half now where I have really tucked my head down and tried to concentrate on my serve and my volleys and try to become more of an aggressive player. And I think it is-- at the moment, it is starting to come together, you know, better and better each day. By no means is it like a Stefan Edberg combination, but I feel that if I keep working at it, you know, I feel I can only get better.

Q. Do you feel you are at-- maybe on the verge of moving to the next level at this tournament, in particular, where you have reached the fourth round before, but not gone past?

MICHAEL CHANG: I would like too, definitely. You know, I feel that I am out of this mentality where, you know, I got to the rounds 16, that is good enough. I think that I have gotten to a point, maybe just watching some of the other players, maybe Courier and Sampras, in particular, that they are able to do -- to get, you know, a little bit farther in the Grand Slam events, and you know, basically say to myself, well, you have-- I have grown up with these guys. I have played them a lot. I have won a few times, and you know, why am I not able to put something together like they are? I think in a sense, it gives me quite a bit of a boost, to say, well, if they can do it can, I can do it too.

Q. Do you feel stronger now than you have been in the past? You seem stronger out there.

MICHAEL CHANG: I feel stronger. I don't know if I look stronger. That wasn't a joke, actually. I think that -- I think that the strength part you work on it a little bit, it is part of the mature process? I am a little bit older. I think my body is starting to mature a lot. I think that is going to help me out in my overall game; to add a little bit more power to my game, and not to really so much on defensive skills or tactics.

Q. A lot of players very near the top, at the top, talk about a lot of the ups and downs and so on in being a top player. Can you see, with all those ups and downs and you have already been through it, can you see yourself playing at this level at 40, the way Connors is?

MICHAEL CHANG: It is another 20 years. It is tough to say. I honestly feel that it probably would be difficult. The reason being is that I think when Jimmy was 20, Jimmy Connors, I don't think the game quite was as intense. I don't think that they played as many tournaments as we play now and I think that it is probably much more demanding on your body, you know, and on your mind now. I think that it was probably a little bit easier back then. You would have-- like, you go, maybe, through the first couple of rounds, just kind of like walk a little bit, then you start to get to the tougher matches. Nowadays every match is tough. And you have to go out there and be ready to go for the first ball.

Q. Do you feel a little bit a part of this Connors old man legend because of the French, a couple of years ago? You kind of got attached to him with the ad. Do people often approach you and bring up Connors and that stuff?

MICHAEL CHANG: No. They just tell me to nupe it. I don't think that -- no.

Q. Do players on the tour-- do you think players on the tour like to see Connors winning at this age? Making a run like last year?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think it depends on who they play. If he plays me, I am going to want to. I am not going to want to see him win. I think that, you know, I think that, like, situation like last year, I feel that that was really good for the game. I feel that was great for the U.S. Open. It made it much more exciting than it already is, and you know, I welcome that. I have nothing against Jimmy doing well. Everybody is out there to try to do the best that they can, and you know, Jimmy had a great run last year, and you have to take your hat off.

Q. Because in a way, I guess just having old guys hang around and hanging around takes a little bit of our attention from the younger guys?

MICHAEL CHANG: I don't think so. I don't think 40 is all that old. I got a clap their somewhere. In a sense, he made me sound like 40 is like you can't do anything anymore. Like you can barely get out of bed or something. You know, I feel that Jimmy kind of-- it is a lot -- I guess, in a sense he is just out there. He is not out there anymore for the ranking or anything like that. You know, I think he knows what his body takes. He knows what it needs in order to get ready, and you know, I think he has probably gone through a few changes in his routines. You know, a little bit shorter, but maybe a little bit more intense, and he is able to go out and play five sets.

Q. Can you comment on the second set where you were down four games? And then how did you get yourself out of that?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think at 4-Love in the second, you know, I just tried to, you know, basically tried to get up back on the board in the second set. You know, I tried to just keep my head in it and not think so much that it was 4-Love, but work on it little by little, point by point, and good points turn into games and stuff. And next thing I know, I was up -- I won nine straight games. I think that also that you start to miss a little bit more. I started to make more returns. He served very, very well throughout the whole match, actually. At some points it was on and off, but I think that I was able to kind of get on his serve a little bit and make him hit a few more balls and I think that, in turn, forced a few more errors.

Q. Were you surprised that you were even able to win on your second serve?


Q. You were able to win on your second serve?

MICHAEL CHANG: No. I mean, because they were, like, to my eyes, kind of. So, actually, that is my tactic. If I hit a little bit slower than everybody else, it kind of throws them off a little bit. (Laughter) I think -- well, slow, compared to his second serve.

Q. That was my guess.

MICHAEL CHANG: His second serve was going like 100 miles per hour. Nobody hits it that hard. I think that is why he hit a few more doublefaults. But, you know, I think that normally -- as far as the serving part for me, you know, if he is able to win point after point on my second serve, obviously I am going to work on getting the first serve in. If they are not doing it as effectively, I am just going to keep going for my first serve and just worry -- not really worry about the second, because if they are not winning points off my second serve, it doesn't bother me to hit a second serve.

Q. You talked a little while ago, Michael, about 18 months ago working on your serve and volleying. What precipitated that change? Did you a kind of take stock in your career and where it was going? Or what kind of triggered that whole going back to the laboratory?

MICHAEL CHANG: I looked at the way the game was changing, the way that players were starting to play; I think that in a sense the match today is kind of a good example. He uses a wide body racket, the big serves, big volleys, went for a lot of ground strokes. That has really been the style of tennis lately. I don't think that it is becoming a trend. I think it is-- in a sense, that it is -- I have thought of it more like a strategy. If you can hit the ball 130 miles per hour, you know, the guy can't get it back. Keep doing it. If I can do that, I would keep doing it too. So in turn, I think you have to be able to change your game. I think for me in particular, I am not so much of a power player. I can just blow somebody off with my serve, that I have to change certain aspects of my game to keep them thinking all the time, to say, well, if you can hit a hard shot when I come into the net that maybe this is that much away from my racket and still in the court you're deserving to win. If you can hit that ball as hard as you can and still be that accurate, then you're deserving to win. But until they can show me that they can do that, you know, that is why I have to mix it up. I have to come in a little bit. You know, I have to serve well. Play defensive tennis when I am forced to play defensive tennis. Keep him always thinking.

Q. Since Ivan Lendl dominated the late '80s, we haven't had anyone really in the men's tour to stay up there. Is that a part of the progression in terms of competition --

MICHAEL CHANG: I think it is. Honest, I think it is part of the depth of men's tennis. You know, I really think that it is no longer, you know, three players that are really dominating the whole tour. I think it is more like, you know, I think the first the top three, at the moment, have really solidified their spots; they may interchange a little bit, but at the moment, they are kind of ahead of the rest of the group.

Then you have anywhere from like four to ten, which are changing week after week, depending on performances, and you know, the game is no longer just three guys beating everybody else. It is ten guys. It is a lot of other guys just coming out and having their moments in particular tournaments.

Q. What would you say the depth is attributed to? Is that because there is more money in the game or more exposure? What is going on?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think partly- - it is tough to say, to pinpoint one. But I think, honestly, partly, one of the reasons could be that if you have a best 14 system, you could kind of go out and just kind of like play, in a sense, with no pressure. The old system was like every tournament counted. If you didn't do well, your average dropped. If you did well, your average would go up. Now it is kind of, like, well, I have my best 14, I can just kind of go out and swing away. If I don't do so well, it is, you know, it is okay. I have the next tournament. I saw one guy had like 35 tournaments on there. You know, I am not making any criticisms to the ATP or anything, but I think that is probably one of the things that enables guys who are ranked a little bit lower to just kind of go out and just swing away. Not have to worry so much about, whether dropping in the rankings or what have you.

Q. The general view at the present moment is that Pete Sampras is going to have the title. Do you see anybody else and what is your view?

MICHAEL CHANG: I think Pete is playing very, very well at the moment. I think that it is difficult to, you know, pinpoint who is going to win the Open, because, really, the Open is very different from a small tournament. I think that you can take into consideration, maybe last year, you know, you had Pete actually did very, very well last year during the summer. You know, got to -- he won L.A., he won Indy. Got to the finals of Cincinnati. Came in, lost in the quarters. Courier did okay. Got to the semi-finals. He ended up getting into the finals. Stefan, I don't think he did that well. He got to the finals of Hamlet. Like ended up winning the tournament. I don't think you can really go on other hard court tournaments. It is just -- I think -- I don't think it lives true. I just still think that -- I do think that Pete has a good chance to win the Open. He obviously is capable of doing that. Whether or not, we will have to see.

Q. Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts....

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