Re: Re: Marat Interviews
2000 FORO ITALICO
May 9, 2000
An interview with:
ANDREI CHESNOKOV and MARAT SAFIN
Q. Why are you such a good coach?
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: I am a good tennis player.
Q. Could you perhaps tell us roughly how the new relationship with Marat came about, you know, when did it happen and why did it happen and then perhaps Marat could tell us a little bit of the impact it clearly had on him.
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: His agent found me in Paris and asked if I can help with Marat. I got a phone call from his agent, an agent. He asked me if I can help him as a coach, and that's the way we begin together in Barcelona. I want to tell, I never did special like -- special things. Like I will never practice together for five hours, we never worked for five hours, but, you know, I think I took the great player. And the only things I can tell you, like something for his head during the tournament in Barcelona. And I think this guy, he can listen well. I think if he can listen well, it's more important things.
Q. Have you ever thought that you wanted to get in to coaching, or is it just a complete surprise to you as well?
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: It's little bit surprised me, and before I was -- I was -- I still playing like a tournament last week. And I don't play any more, let's say ATP tournaments, but I can -- I always play -- I was always continue to play the other tournaments, and I think this offer little bit surprised me. And I said to myself, "Okay, but Marat, I know he's a nice guy and why I don't -- why I'm not going to try a little bit to help him." And I think he did a very, very good job in Barcelona, and then last weekend in Mallorca. And I said to him, you know, now you can play tennis, you don't need a coach anymore. (Laughter.)
Q. Can you tell us something, can you say if it's true about your new technique of hitting your pupil if he doesn't want you to order it?
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: The new technique, it's very simple today. I said to Marat, you know, it's very simple today. We don't have too much time before the Barcelona tournament because I am arrive to Barcelona Sunday, and one of the things -- I don't want to see any results, but I want to see the man on the court, and I would like you to fight for every single point. That's the first things I said to him. But I think he listen well, and he know the tennis and I think he was working a lot with his old coach and he has a very good potential today, and he's very talented and he can play tennis.
Q. Which do you think was his biggest problem? At which level do you think he could arrive?
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: Which level?
Q. Yes. I mean ranking or...
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: But, you know, the way he played until the Barcelona tournament, the way he played until Barcelona tournament he should be like maybe 500. (Laughter.) Don't be nervous, don't be nervous. But the way he played like the last two tournaments, it's No. 1 player.
Q. Is he allowed to say some words, too?
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: Can you tell how far you can go?
Q. Does this new technique work out of Spain or just in Spain?
MARAT SAFIN: What do you mean?
Q. You won two small tournaments in Spain.
MARAT SAFIN: Excuse me, but maybe it was small tournaments for you, but to me, I won one tournament that was $325,000. So for me to win a tournament in Mallorca is 500,000. There are a lot of players, Kafelnikov, not a good player... Norman is -- I don't know. Maybe for you is -- sorry, I'm not on your level now.
Q. Marat, when did you start thinking that you might need to change your coach, and was it your idea that they spoke to Andrei?
MARAT SAFIN: Yes, because I think we have been together a long time with Rafael. He had become not a coach, he become like a father. And it's little bit difficult to get something really high, for example, I don't know, to be in the top in rankings. It's a little bit difficult because you can't -- when he's talking, sometimes you don't understand him because he's talking like a father, and he cannot understand me on the court. But out of the court, we was -- we was so close, so something -- we miss something on the court. So I said to him, "Let's try something new." I would like to know what is happening. I told him that I am going to try to work with Andrei. He said yes, it's -- he told me it is a good idea. I was sad, he was sad, but that's life because it just was business. But our relationship is still the same, and I think it's bit more important than the business. Because otherwise, if was -- if I will be with him right now, it will be first round, first round, first round, and then in two months, say ahhh, fuck you and fuck you. That's it. (Laughter.) We like this. I don't want to lose him -- I didn't want to lose him like a friend, so that was right idea I think.
Q. Some days you play like a champion, some times like a 500 player. Is it some Russian attitude? Like Kafelnikov, sometimes he plays like a champion, wins a Grand Slam tournament then after for three, four weeks in a row he gets out in the first round with all the talent he has. Is it a Russian problem or just the athlete?
MARAT SAFIN: I don't know. Ask him.
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: I would like to give the answer. I would like to give the answer. First of all, about the -- you said two "small" tournaments, Barcelona and -- no, no, no. Listen. Okay. For Sampras and Agassi, it's maybe like some kind of Challenger. Maybe. It could be. For him, you know, for him it's a big tournament and it was a big week in Barcelona, even in Mallorca. Because it doesn't matter who he played, maybe the player ranking all the way up to the final, you know, against the players like ranking 100 or 200. The way he played, he played great, and I think it's more important that he won these two tournaments. He got the confidence. His head is clean now and he can play tennis like a champion. And of course we don't want to stop, you know, let's say last week, you know. He won the tournament. He won two tournaments. It's not our goal. I'd prefer we go forward. And the question with Kafelnikov, I don't want to see Marat on the Tour if he's going to play the way like Kafelnikov. You know, I said, okay, if you're going to win a tournament, you know, you have to be like a champion. You cannot, let's say, play the next tournament, let's say you won the tournament in Barcelona. There's the next tournament in Mallorca. You cannot, like, giving up the first round. No, you have to fight. You have to fight for every single point, and that makes the difference you to the other players. I don't want talking about let's say especially to Kafelnikov, who will let's say -- who played the tournament in -- Grand Slam tournament, first tournament Grand Slam this year, Australian Open. And then next, let's say now he's losing everywhere first and second round. No. It's not -- it's not -- today it's not like his style and, you know, we're working to get him better.
Q. What would happen if Marat acted on court the way he did at the Australian Open this year with you coaching him? At the Australian, when they fined you for --
MARAT SAFIN: Who fined me?
Q. The ITF fined you.
MARAT SAFIN: Ah, fined me.
Q. What would happen?
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: What, in Australia? I don't understand the question. Go ahead.
MARAT SAFIN: One more time?
Q. You were fined.
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah.
Q. For allegedly not trying in the Australian Open this year.
MARAT SAFIN: First of all, I would like to say that how they put in the press and everything, it was completely different. Because nobody -- everybody knows more than me. It's unbelievable how the people from the press, they know what I did.
Q. What did you do?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, because it was -- sorry, but it was in the court almost higher, so we played almost there. Nobody was in the stand, no in the seats. Was completely empty. I don't know how the people from the press, they knew it.
Q. We were just told that --
MARAT SAFIN: Who told you? How you can write this thing --
Q. We only wrote what we were told - that you were fined because of --
MARAT SAFIN: Because of what?
Q. -- for not trying.
MARAT SAFIN: Okay, for not trying. How I not try?
Q. The ITF officials told us.
MARAT SAFIN: The ITF don't have any idea.
Q. What was your view of what happened?
MARAT SAFIN: First of all, in the press they put that I took the ball with the hand. How can you write it if you didn't see it with your eyes? How you can do it? Sorry, guys, but is not serious. How --
Q. All we could write was what they produced as an official statement. We couldn't make any comment. We have no idea whether you were at --
MARAT SAFIN: Okay, so ITF, how they can do this?
Q. They apparently did it on the report of a supervisor, Bill Gillmore.
MARAT SAFIN: Okay, he's a genius. I mean why? He was on the court?
Q. I have no idea. He said he was.
MARAT SAFIN: He was on the court?
Q. He said he was.
MARAT SAFIN: There was only umpire, my coach and a few person more.
Q. I can witness that I was passing by this court and I had just a glimpse, I saw you desperately trying. I am the witness against all of those reporters, all of them. (Laughter.)
MARAT SAFIN: Okay. So you can write whatever you want, okay. I'm a bad player, they put me fine $2,000, okay. I think it was good -- yes, I took with the hand the ball. Yes, I hit the ball boy also. You can put it. Is okay. Is no problem. But, no, ITF, okay, is no your problem, is ITF problem. But I don't understand how the people, they can write it. Sorry, but it wasn't like this. I'm telling to you now, it wasn't like this. You have to write this, what they put on the press.
Q. Did I ask you for a press conference there, I don't remember?
MARAT SAFIN: No.
Q. You weren't asked for a press conference there in Australia? But were you asked for a press conference there?
MARAT SAFIN: No, because I was -- sorry, but I was sad. When I read this -- I had it to --
Q. But immediately after the match.
MARAT SAFIN: No, nobody asked me what happened. Sorry.
Q. Andrei, how much are you likely to travel this year?
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: Today, I don't like to travel. I don't like to travel.
Q. So are you not going to travel to a lot of tournaments or what?
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: I will, I will. If we're going to continue to working, I think I have to travel.
Q. We'll see you everywhere.
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: I cannot promise you.
Q. Can he win the French Open?
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: Can he win the French Open?
MARAT SAFIN: No.
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: Okay, you can go out and I give answer. I don't want you to hear this. (Laughter.) But also, I would like to say, you know, I will give you answer on this question but, you know, today -- but not today. I said already to Marat, the way you played the tournament in let's say Indian Wells, Copenhagen, Monte Carlo, let's say you play the first set then if something happens, like something bad, then you give the match away. And I said it, you know, the way you played until Barcelona, you was not a man. And if we -- if you want to work together with me, you have to be on a court like a man, like a Muster. Muster, he was a big fighter, even he was in a bad mood, didn't sleep, something happening during the match, he never give up. He play until the end. And I said to Marat, that's the way you have to play every match. Even today, it could be he's going a bit tired after the Barcelona and Mallorca. It's not so easy to play two weeks in a row like this. I said even if he's going up 6-2, 5-Love, I would like you to play until the end. Every point, every point you will win, you will get the experience for the French Open. For the French Open, I would like him to win, you know, the big tournament like the French Open, Wimbledon, whatever. But the point is I don't know him very well. I don't know where we have to work to get -- when, where, on what case we have to work. I know what is his bad things on the court, I know he has good things on the court. But of course I would like him to win French Open. You know, every thing is possible during the two weeks in the French Open. The point is you -- it's not only you have to play well sometimes. Also, you have to be lucky sometimes during the tournament, because, you know, the level is so high today and not everybody can play well. Like Ruud last week, he played the biggest match. I never seen Ruud the way he played against Safin. And Safin, he won 7-5 in the third.
Q. But in your opinion, clay is his best surface?
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: I think he can play everywhere. I think he can play well everywhere because he got a good serve and also his hand is quick.
Q. Even grass?
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: Even on grass.
Q. On ice?
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: On ice, he can play Moscow during the winter. And I played on ice, yeah. It's not so easy. You have to -- you have to skate well. (Laughter.)
Q. I always do that in St. Moritz for Christmas. I have experience on ice, as you are experienced on ice.
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: Did you won the tournament in St. Moritz?
Q. I was beaten in the semifinal. Can you say something about the human being? We don't know anything about Safin like man, like guy, what sort of man he is.
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: I don't know, but he's a nice guy and that's it. He's not talking badly about no one, and he has a very good relationships, I think, with everybody. And let's say big heart, I think it's very important in tennis, for the relationships.
Q. What do you think was the most important: To take you as a coach or to leave the other coach, in a way? Not because he was bad coach, but because it was a psychological problem at the moment.
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: I didn't know his old coach very well, and I don't want to -- I don't want to tell anything bad about the old coach. I just want to tell something good about the old coach, because --
Q. Thinking psychologically more than anything, he seemed to have a problem to play well when he was with him more psychologically.
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: You know, I just want to tell you then, his old coach, he created -- I think he's create a big player, you know. And I think what the main point for Marat, he needs to fix his brain. I think that was the main point, and I never -- I never train Marat, you know, I never, like, spend five hours on the court with Marat.
Q. You spoke well.
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: You know, I only had chances to give the good feeling, good sense, I don't know. I tried to tell him, you know, something for the -- to get him in shape to get, you know, to do not thinking about anything, you know. If you will be clean in your head, even if you are in the bad shape, you can play well. That's what I was trying to tell Marat.
Q. Are you excited by the amount of talent you see in him?
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: I think he's very talented today, and the point is if we not going to continue to working, the talent is going down like this. And -- because today he only played a tournament every week, and I said to Marat if you want to be ready for the French Open, you have to like stop for one week and --
Q. Is he going to do that?
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: No, he's entering to play before French Open.
Q. He's playing Dusseldorf?
MARAT SAFIN: He's going to play Dusseldorf, but in the team, Kafelnikov and Safin, they taking the team. I said to Marat, okay, listen, I'm going to play instead of you. (Laughter.) Because I don't -- I don't want you get exhausted before the French Open, and I don't want you repeat my mistakes, or any mistakes on the Tour.
Q. Which were playing too much?
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: Let's say I said to him if you want to play well, you have to play three, four tournaments maximum, and then you have to practice for one or two weeks. Then you can improve your tennis, and we talk about the talent. You know, the talent is not only we have to be the talent in your hand, you have to be talented in your head also. If you bring two things together, talent here and talent in your head, then you can be the champion.
Q. If you had to play against Safin today, how you can beat him?
ANDREI CHESNOKOV: No, I don't want to beat him. I don't want to let him go on. No, no, but if you want to see this match between me and Safin, the way he play, he can beat -- he can -- I don't think if he afraid to play someone else on the Tour today.
End of FastScripts….
Marat Safin - always the one and only