Marat : How are people supposed to know about us if they dont show us on TV!
THE MODERATOR: Please go ahead for Marat Safin.
Q. How do you feel coming here after last week?
MARAT SAFIN: It's another chance to win a couple of matches, to get the confidence back, and another try.
Q. Where is your confidence now?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, I didn't had the really good results for a couple of weeks, but I had also difficult draws. And also this week I am having a really tough first round, it's Blake or Spadea.
So I'll try to get over it and try to see if I can move on and I can play the same level as I played in Australia. I just need a little bit of luck, and I think is another great chance for me.
Q. Do you think you are in a good way?
MARAT SAFIN: No, I'm feeling good. Just circumstances are not really good for me. I'm just little bit unlucky with draws. First round against Federer, second round against Roddick. I was a little bit out of confidence.
If we go other way around, probably I would be in the same position as Federer right now.
Q. So you think you can beat these guys at least?
MARAT SAFIN: No, but it's not like I'm losing quite easily. That's what I'm saying, 7‑6, 7‑6 against Federer, it could go also my way. It's like lottery. The score 7‑6, 7‑6 could go any way.
So, unfortunately, didn't go my way. But there is always another chance.
Q. You trained in Valencia with Juan Carlos, right?
MARAT SAFIN: Not exactly.
Q. Not exactly?
MARAT SAFIN: Not exactly. One is from the same place, but different cities. I would live like around 60 miles away from each other.
Q. You know him pretty well?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, yeah. We been playing, I mean, we been traveling together in the same tournaments since we are 14.
Q. He doesn't seem to be a particularly popular champion here in the States. He's not in this tournament, but do you have any idea why that might be?
MARAT SAFIN: Who, Ferrero?
MARAT SAFIN: You asking me why Ferrero is not popular in Miami or in USA?
MARAT SAFIN: Because, guys, I think that you have your own players and you like very much your players, the American ones. Nobody really cares about the Spanish players, especially here. Nobody cares about it.
Exactly also for the players from other countries. At least there is a lot of people, they know only Agassi, Roddick and Blake. I think it's normal.
Also, he is not also popular in Russia. Nobody knows him. Nobody cares about him. The people from Europe, yes, they know him, because he's traveling and he's playing in Europe.
Q. There have been players from Europe who have been very popular here ‑ Becker, Edberg. Do you think he hasn't won enough, or is it his style of play, his demeanor on the court?
MARAT SAFIN: We are talking about little bit different things. For all the respect for Ferrero and a lot of other guys, including me, who didn't achieve the same things as Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker. So this is probably the main reason.
Also, you have to see that lately, nobody should know ‑‑ I cannot even watch tennis on TV. Nobody shows tennis. And the way they show, there is some matches that nobody cares about them, so who's gonna watch? So how do you want to promote the players? How the people, they gonna understand who is who? They don't know who is who and they don't really care who is who because it's not interesting, because it's boring, and because you cannot even see them on TV.
Q. I guess I would still argue that you won one Slam; Juan Carlos has won one Slam.
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah. But, sorry, where you can see me on TV in the United States? Where? You think that they really care about Safin in a match in Indian Wells first round? Nobody cares.
For the same reason. Tennis is so ‑‑ they don't promote it very well. They don't get enough hours to show on TV because it's not entertaining anymore. That's the main reason. That's the main reason that the people like us, like Ferrero, Federer and Safin and Roddick ‑‑ okay, Roddick, because he is American, but normally, nobody really knows the players and not really interested to watch these kind of matches.
Q. So it's the media's fault?
MARAT SAFIN: I don't know who's fault but definitely not mine. It's somebody who has to deal with ‑‑ for example, here's a person from ATP. You can blame them for that, for not promoting the tennis the way it should be promoted and not getting enough hours on the TV. It has to be either certain hours, so at least the people can see sometimes tennis.
Q. I guess I would still argue...
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, it's okay, you can argue. You don't have to tell me.
Q. You're more popular than a Ferrero. Spanish players in general have never been that popular, if you go back, in the States.
MARAT SAFIN: And? What's your point?
Q. I don't know.
MARAT SAFIN: But make your point. You don't know.
Q. Just wondering why. You lived in Spain. Is it something about...
MARAT SAFIN: It's nothing in particular about Spanish players. I mean, the Spanish players, they are quiet, famous enough in Europe. Maybe because their tennis is not really unbelievably attractive, could be one of the reasons. Could be.
But also, everybody has different character. But this kind of character that the Spanish people have, maybe they're not ‑‑ the people from the States don't like it; they want to see something else. They want to see like maybe a John McEnroe, they want to see Boris Becker, or they want to see big names, more interesting game. They want to see little bit serve and volley and some nice shots. You cannot see that from the Spanish players. Could be this is the reason.
I'm not taking away the achievements they had for the last past ‑‑ a lot of like, 10 years. Spanish tennis grew up a little bit ‑ quite a lot actually ‑ they have already 10 players in the Top 100. But somehow it's not that attractive for the people. Not for me, I don't really care.
But for me, they are tough opponents, but we are not talking about the issue. That's not the issue. It's about how attractive really is it or not.
Q. Do you like to watch the Spanish play?
MARAT SAFIN: I will not even watch tennis if I'm not playing. I had enough with my own problems, and I have enough with my own tennis. I won't go to see the match of... I don't know...
Q. Why did you choose Estoril for the clay court season instead of Valencia?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, because the people from Estoril, they wanted more than the people from Valencia.
I don't know. I choose it. It is my decision that I actually choose Estoril because it's ‑ I don't know ‑ it's nice place. Nice people. They always treated me well there, even though that I didn't play really well. And they want still me to come back and come back.
So I have to give them ‑‑ at least I feel like I have to try my best, you know, to improve my game there and to show the people that if I am coming there I want to play and I want to win the tournament. Because really I am coming for ‑‑ it's gonna be my fourth time there, and the maximum I got is quarterfinals. I definitely can do better than that.
It's also great preparation for me to, you know, to get the confidence, get the confidence and move on to the clay court season. It's a great, great, great tournament and great people. That's why main reason I am going there.
Q. What are your expectations with the European clay court season coming up?
MARAT SAFIN: It's difficult. Is one of the most difficult months that we have, because we have three Masters Series almost like in a row. So it's really difficult because the schedule is not really great for the players.
Because we have no time to rest and to get ready for another Masters Series. So basically you play Monte‑Carlo, you have Barcelona, you have Rome, Hamburg, and you are already end up in Roland Garros. So it's also too much frustrates for the players. It's really difficult to get focus on every particular tournament during this months because everything comes together. That's a little bit difficult, so you have to be mentally prepared.
Q. You were just talking about Andre before. Can you imagine playing as long as he is playing?
MARAT SAFIN: No. No.
Q. Why do you think he's having such success?
MARAT SAFIN: Because it's not like because he is Andre Agassi and he's the best of all times, blah‑blah‑blee, blah, blah, blah, I can move on like this for a long time. Just because he loves tennis, he feels like playing, he's really enjoying it, even at the age of 33 years old, and he's playing since he's 16. So calculate how many years he's on the tour. Still, to be in love with tennis as he is, I don't think that there are many players ‑‑ you cannot even count on one hand, not many players like this that will stay for a long time and really enjoys tennis and gives his best and try and try and try every year and be fit like he is fit, and beating most of the guys quite easily.
And even when he loses, he still continues to play and still continues to work. And he is a great professional athlete.
But, in my case, I don't think I'll be able to play against ‑‑ till the age of 34 because it's my character. But his character is completely different than most of the people. That's why he's one of the million.
Q. You were saying that you are really, really close to that top level. Where would you say in your game is the little, slight difference that you have to make to be there, exactly there, with those four or five names that are the ones that maybe sometimes make a problem for you?
MARAT SAFIN: But you cannot ‑‑ it's just ‑‑ every person has different mentality, okay. I have my own ‑‑ everybody like ‑‑ it's really difficult.
Q. Would you say is it confidence? Is it technical difference? Adjustments you have to make in your game?
MARAT SAFIN: But, okay. Very simple. The answer is really simple because the way that the level grew up in the past let's say five, six years, the way they improved, it's unbelievable. It wasn't like this when Becker used to play, when Edberg used to play, when Agassi started and Sampras and McEnroe was there.
It was like Top 10 ‑ let's put it this way, Top 20, and then the rest of the guys.
So that's why, because now tennis is more competitive, and it's more equal between the guy who was No. 1 in the world to like 99 in the world, even 100.
Q. I would agree you are there, in the top level.
MARAT SAFIN: I am there but also...
Q. What would be the difference that you have to make in order to achieve the next step?
MARAT SAFIN: There is no "another step." There is no another step. Because before, for example, take Roland Garros of '96 or beginning of the '90s when Becker used to play. First three rounds he is winning 6‑1, 6‑1, 6‑1, 6‑2, 6‑2, 6‑1 basically.
Once he has a tough match because he felt like he doesn't want to play this day and he was bored, because he fight with his girlfriend, for example, and he make a difficult match.
But at the end, he is winning so easily until semifinals. Semifinals he gets the match against Edberg. Then starts the tournament basically for him.
Then he plays against Edberg, then the finals against McEnroe.
Now, try to win the first match. I have match against Blake or Spadea. They are unbelievable players. Then if I win, I have to play against Nalbandian. If I win, I have to play against another like ‑ I don't know ‑ Roger Federer, for example. I'm not even in the quarterfinals. So I have to work my ass off just to get to the quarterfinals.
It's also difficult to maintain this level because it's like it's physically it's much tougher than it used to be. Every day, it's every day. Why do people, they get injured so fast and so much? Everybody's injured. Everybody suffered like the ‑‑ they have to go to make surgeries.
Tommy Haas, he was out for one year and a half because of the schedule, because of the level of the game, and because it's really competitive. You have to give every time 100 percent. If you don't give 100 percent, you are out.
And for how long, how many weeks you can ‑‑ your body is able to compete on the same level? If you make two, two weeks in a row, you are unbelievable strong. Three, you are amazing. But no more than three.
But, for example, that's what I'm talking before. In May we have three Masters Series. Try to play the same level, try to win all three of them ‑ no chance.
Q. Not possible?
MARAT SAFIN: For sure you will make ‑‑ okay, if you win one, you will lose...
Q. If you make it, you will be bad the rest of the year.
MARAT SAFIN: I think we're playing not ‑‑ we're playing the same level of Becker and Edberg.
Q. But not every day?
MARAT SAFIN: But not every day.
Q. It's impossible to maintain that every day?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, because like you have a tough match. The next day you have another tough match. The third day your body cannot do anymore, no matter how many hours you spend in the gym.
Q. When were you in Spain? What years did you train there?
MARAT SAFIN: From '94 to 2001.
Last edited by Kiara; 03-26-2004 at 11:20 PM.