Re: Re: Marat news and articles
BY SANDRA HEWarT
[SIZE=3]Marat Safin has "it." [SIZE=3]
I'm sure that terminology doesn't escape anyone. Everyone knows someone who has "it" -- that indefinable little something extra that makes a person somebody to notice. At 20 years old, this Russian has all the goods that give him star quality: he's tall, he's handsome, he's talented, and he has PERSONALITY. And, of course, having money doesn't hurt, either.
Personality is a big one in the business of tennis, because without it, you can accomplish a great deal but never really become an anybody. Tennis has been craving a future celebrity, and Safin has the necessary credentials. Sure, his talent is still a little bit raw, but it's there all right.
Proof? You want proof? How about a first career Grand Slam semifinal berth at the US Open? How about his quarterfinal victory over none other than Pete Sampras at the Canadian Open last month? How about his taking home the trophy from that Canadian Open? How about Safin reaching the Indianapolis final two weeks after winning the Canadian Open? How about Safin winning three of his four titles just this year?
Safin has a theory to his success and the keyword is "AFRAID." "I think you have to be afraid, otherwise you going to the court, you think that you have to win," Safin said, after his 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 quarterfinal victory over Nicolas Kiefer of Germany. "You have to be afraid every time you going to the court. Otherwise you go to the court like you go to the beach."
Did I forget to say that Safin is funny, too?
Safin's biggest weakness has been that he hasn't quite figured out that you can't go after every ball like it's the last ball you might hit. Tempering his game to know when it might be prudent to play a little bit on the conservative side will certainly make him a far more mature player in the future. And there's no question that his desire to win is definitely a beneficial trait. "Semifinal is not enough, definitely," he said. "It's never enough, believe me."
It could bring a little excitement to the table if Safin comes through his side of the draw and Sampras comes through his end of the draw to meet in the finals come Sunday afternoon. According to Kiefer, who was a warm-up act for Safin, the Russian can take it all here at the US Open.
"The way he plays, I think his confidence is getting much bigger and bigger," Kiefer said, emphatically. "He played a lot of matches this year. He had a great season. For sure, he has a great chance to get in the final. He also beat Pete a couple weeks ago. I think he has a good chance, good chance for him to win."
Safin isn't running out to build a shelf for a US Open trophy just yet, accepting Kiefer's judgment as a compliment, but with a bit of a sense of humor: "It's only words. Can you believe it?" he asks, with an impish grin.
Kiefer stopped short of trying to compare Safin to Sampras, taking note that Safin is just another one of the young guns that the newest ATP Tour advertising campaign -- "New Balls, Please" -- is trying to push with the public. He also probably couldn't find the comparison, since Safin has no Grand Slam trophies, while Sampras displays a record 13 among his collection of 63 titles.
"He's (Safin) much younger," Kiefer said. "He didn't win so many Grand Slam tournaments. He's one of the 'New Balls, Please.'"
Safin first learned his tennis from his mother Rausa Islanova, who is actually having a good Open here with former students. Elena Dementieva, who pushed her way into a first Grand Slam semifinal (where she'll meet Lindsay Davenport), also counts Safin's mother as her first coach. Safin remembers the days when part of his training included practicing with Dementieva, and he doesn't have any inhibitions about saying way back then "she was bad."
While his mother taught him his tennis strokes, Safin credits his father with teaching him how to have a temper. That's why he is known as one of the up-and-coming racket smashing artisans. But he's been working hard to try to curb the bad habit, since it has become rather costly. "You know how much I paid already this year?" Safin said of his fines. "If you can pay my fines, it's okay -- I can break many (rackets). It's close to $7000, or even $10,000. Do you know what I can do with $10,000?"
Maybe build that shelf for a US Open winner's trophy?
Last edited by helena; 12-17-2003 at 05:06 PM.