"And how to say this one? The Russian one, doesn't have a bad one also. What is his name, the young one, the tall one? This guy, you know (laughter)? The one not playing too bad. He beat once Sampras in the finals of US Open. Do you know him (laughter)? Safin, maybe Safin? I mean, I don't know, I consider myself I don't have a bad backhand. Not super, but I'm working on it."
"I wasn't interested in tennis, but didn't know what to do with my feets, too."
"You want to sit in the five-star hotels? You have to get here and, believe me, it's a long way. Years and years of working hard and traveling the world, and shitty hotels with no TV and no bathroom. I did all this. Going to a cafe and eating off the $5 menu. You start with $100 a week, maybe. I was down to nothing sometimes. I had to make some good results to make money. Now you come to five-star hotels, and it's, "What do you want? Coke? Whiskey?
"I wasn't a genius I wasn't stupid. I was okay. I was a normal guy. Sometimes I cheated in exams. we all do."
"Then there's the matter of that coaching vacancy. "I can't understand it," Safin says with mock earnestness. "You get to spend 24 hours a day around me. That should be hard to resist, shouldn't it?"
Last week he was asked if he had designs on emulating Kournikova and emigrating soon to the U.S. "Oh, so you want me to kill myself?" responded Safin, who recently bought an apartment in Monte Carlo. "They don't even let me drink beer in this country."
"I'm trying and I'm trying, and I'm growing up. I'll be 23 soon."
"This is the best time . . . enjoy every moment of your life, every day and not regret afterwards," he said. "It's really important to enjoy what you are doing, enjoy the way you are living because time is running really fast, every year faster and faster and your best times are when you are young."