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Safin looks within after loss

Jessi
08-04-2002, 02:23 AM
By TOM TEBBUTT
Special to The Globe and Mail


Saturday, August 3, 2002 – Print Edition, Page S4


TORONTO -- During his postmatch media conference yesterday, Marat Safin was seated in a comfortable, leather armchair but he could just as well have been stretched out on a psychiatrist's couch.

After his 7-5, 6-3 loss to Guillermo Canas of Argentina, Safin bared his competitive tennis soul.

Almost as if a psychiatrist had told Safin to start from the beginning, he traced the origins of his current crisis of confidence to the Masters Series Hamburg in May where he beat world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 6-1 in the quarter-finals before getting blitzed 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 by a red-hot Roger Federer in the final.

"I was playing great against Hewitt and he had no chance at all," Safin said. "Then after the final against Federer, I started to think I'm not good enough to beat all these players. Even though I made the semi-finals of Roland Garros, I was struggling. I played a terrible match against [Spain's Juan Carlos] Ferrero [a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 loss].

At that point, Safin, the 2000 U.S. Open champion, raised his right arm and swung it downward with an accompanying whistling sound and said, "and then it was dropping, dropping, dropping."

It may seem ridiculous that one bad match would have such dire consequences, but Safin's tennis psyche is almost as fragile as his tennis talent is huge.

"Everybody knows what my problem is -- it's mental," he said with characteristic candour.

The endearing quality of Safin, 22, is that he smiles a lot, never losing sight of the humorous side of his frustration.

"I used to be more aggressive and go for my shots," he said. "Now I'm defensive and waiting for mistakes. It's so pathetic that it makes me laugh at myself.

Safin tries to regroup with a first-round match against Greg Rusedski at the Masters Series event in Cincinnati next week.

He did acknowledge that Canas played well. The Argentine is gutsy and determined and a redoubtable opponent. Sampras has drawn him in Cincinnati next week.

At the French Open, Canas knocked off 1998 champion Carlos Moya in five sets and Hewitt in four sets before losing a five-set quarter-final match to eventual winner Albert Costa.

Yesterday, he hit an impressive array of killer shots -- topspin lobs, passing shots and serves. He finished with an exclamation mark -- a service winner and two aces in a row.

"I've played very well all week," said Canas, 24 and ranked No. 19. "I've beaten three top-10 players [No. 10 Federer, No. 5 Yevgeny Kafelnikov and No. 2 Safin]. I'll try to make it four against [No. 3] Haas."

He has been bothered by tendinitis in his right wrist but played down the problem. "I've had it for three weeks and today it was better," Canas said. "I didn't feel it in the second set."

Santoro offered a straight-forward explanation for his loss. He cited a crucial service break in the second game of the final set. "He just played too good," Santoro said. "He passed me three times in that game and I can't say that I really played it badly."

Unlike Safin, there was nothing long and drawn out about his analysis.

warfreakbix
08-04-2002, 03:26 AM
Poor Marat, I think he lost his confidence completely because of his lost to Canas. He was even asked if he's thinking of retirement at 22, I think he said he'll give it another try and then..........

Jessi
08-04-2002, 03:39 AM
Poor Marat is right. Its really sad to see him like this. He seems so desperate. I think Marat is just frustrated that he hasn't won a tournament this year despite playing some great tennis and the pressure is finally getting to him.:(

the cat
08-04-2002, 03:41 AM
His career is in crisis. And that's a shame! :(

His Mother should start coaching him again. Something is missing. That's for sure.

Dissident
08-04-2002, 04:04 AM
What is missing is patience. He doesnt have it on any rate.
The pathetic waiting for errors game is effective too, at times. And although I have to agree its not HIS style of play, he can use it sometimes and make it work. So instead of hitting the crap out of the ball in the second shot, make it on the fifth, sixth one. When he does and he keeps his mind focused for that long, he is a monster. But when he doesnt, well, hes gone.
Safin is humorous and stuff, but that 'putting-myself-down' joke is no fun. He needs to talk about his game with someone who can understand it. He needs to reflect over it, not only practice the mechanics. Its a matter of choice, not execution. His shots are perfect. Its just a matter of putting everything in its own place. If he cant do that, his talent is not gonna be enough to put him on top again.
He is having an incredible year, and he is on the right track. He is still coming short on the bigger times, but he should look back and see that he already walked a long way since his worst times. Now its just progressively going. If he could take the positive look, he would see hes walking through the right way.
But he gotta keep on walking. Sitting there and waiting for someone to give him a ride is not gonna help.

Jessi
08-04-2002, 04:18 AM
the cat, you are joking, right? His mother coaching him again?? That seems so off the wall. i think Marat would rather quit right now than have his mother as his travelling companion...:rolleyes:

Jessi
08-04-2002, 04:26 AM
I don't understand why Marat is wracked by so much self-doubt. Doesn't he know how incredibly talented and gifted he is? Its unbelievable that he thinks he's not good enough to beat all these players. He needs to believe more in himself and his talent.:(

warfreakbix
08-04-2002, 07:10 AM
Jessi, I think what we see in Marat is just his facade, the devil may care attitude that hides self doubt. I can not image being away from my family at age 14 and going to a place where I don't know anyone, don't know the language and so far of the culture of my native land. I think at that age he needed the constant presence of his parents to mold his inner psyche and I think this is what he lack the constant reassurance that he is still loved no matter what he does and accomplish.
I hope he finds the cure for whatever that ails him, he's one incredible talent that I don't want to see wasted no matter what!

tennischick
08-04-2002, 12:55 PM
he needs the right coach. i wish he could steal Stefanki away from Henboy. they would make a fantastic combo. this is a phase that most of the great players go thru. he will come thru just fine. his self-honesty is half the battle.

Mrs. B
08-04-2002, 05:00 PM
It's not only Safin who has this mental problem at the moment. Look at Federer, first round exits since Roland Garros, after beating Safin in Hamburg. (he did make the 2nd round in Gstaad)

:confused: