Part 2 of the Tennis.com Q&A
Exit Strategy: Q&A With Marat Safin (Part 2)
Tell me about the Himalayan hike. Are you going to go again sometime?
MS: It's a little bit funny that people paid so much attention to that. I'm not going into space. I bought the ticket, I went to Himalaya, I had fun with my friends, that's it. I never thought it would make such a big noise—all the people, 'Wow, you went to Himalaya?' Yeah, well, buy the ticket, the ticket costs 600 bucks, you get your ass on the plane, and you go there. You spend two thousand dollars on the whole trip, even less. Thousand, it's enough. Don't be so, 'Oh how is it, how was that?' Get on the plane and spend two weeks of your time, just go there. A lot of people, they just talk, but they don't really do things.
So you’ll be doing a lot of traveling next year?
MS: Yeah, I will, I like it, why not? We travel only to tournaments—we don't see much of the world, even though we've been everywhere, we don't see anything except hotels and tennis courts.
Does that get annoying?
MS: We get paid pretty well, so [smiles]. That's our job.
You used to travel with a kickboxing champ?
MS: Well, let's skip this part, OK?
When you got to Wimbledon this year you had no racquets. What happened?
MS: Yeah, well, I forgot them in the airport. It happens. So I had to send.
You’ve been a pro for 12 years. How has it been different than you thought it might be?
MS: Actually, you go through phases. First, everything is new, it's interesting—you are enjoying the ride and the results they come easily. Second part, of course, is when you try to maintain yourself and the third part is basically the downhill, but you know it's not going to last long and you just need to enjoy as much as you can and stick around and see what happens and prepare your last year.
Who were some of your most difficult opponents?
MS: [Fabrice] Santoro was tough for me to play against, any of the guys with really great hands who could read my game.
Some of your favorites?
MS: [Roger] Federer of course because he can do anything he wants with the ball. He makes you play all different kinds of shots, slices, high balls, slow balls, low balls, topspin—you cannot really get a grip on the ball, which makes it complicated. You are out of rhythm all the time.
Would you have retired last year if you had won the Kremlin Cup?
MS: I kind of did, but then I got an offer and I couldn't really refuse it [from his manager]. A lot of people don't believe that I'm going to retire this year, but I can assure you, I've decided, yes, it's enough.
Your win over Federer in the semis at the 2005 Australian Open: Would you rate that match as more important than your victory over Sampras at the U.S. Open? [Safin went on to beat Lleyton Hewitt in the final.]
MS: I think it was probably the biggest match, but it was a different year, different circumstances, different time of career. I achieved the first Grand Slam, and the second Grand Slam, a lot of people were expecting it. “Is he going to win another one or not, or just stick with one and not do much about it?” So for me it was very important to win the second one—it was important for my ego. I had to go through tough moments, I had two finals before I won the Australian, and playing against Federer, of course—look at him now, he's the best player in the history of tennis. To play against him is not really easy, especially if he's in the semifinals it means that he's playing well, he's in perfect timing, perfect condition.
What are you going to do with your life after tennis?
MS: I have things to do, but I don't want to share.
You're not going to run a tennis academy, are you?
MS: No, something outside of tennis, but definitely something that will bring money. Why not? Otherwise it doesn't make any sense, otherwise it's a hobby and it's not as fun as work or doing something productive for which you get appreciated.
You are Muslim. Are you religious?
MS: Everybody’s got to believe in something. I'm not a fanatic, that's for sure.
Is the rumor true that you are engaged?
MS: No, no it's not true, not true. I don't really believe in marriage, but never say never. I just don't think marriage is for me.
What about kids?
MS: Of course, kids, but you don’t have to be married. Kids I would love to, as many as I can.
Would you raise them to play tennis?
MS: Definitely not, something more—something different. From what I see, kids from ex tennis players, nobody really plays good tennis, so it's not gonna happen. Either they don't play tennis or if they play, they're pretty bad players. So why destroy my kid if he can do something good and something different that I'll be excited to see, instead of coming to tennis and seeing my son or daughter suffer on the court?
Will you play exhibitions?
MS: Of course, it will take me some time to get out of it, to enjoy a little bit my life, but definitely, of course, I'll come back to play some senior events, just to keep my butt in shape and remember the good times.
How many months off do you plan to take?
MS: I think six months is pretty—it's enough. And then you need to start to move, to move a little.
I see his view on marriage hasn't changed much.
This part of the interview was pretty funny.