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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Safin's lack of reserve a refreshing change

Aug. 3, 2002. 01:28 PM Damien Cox

At this point in his career, Marat Safin may be his own worst enemy.

But he may also be the best friend tennis could possibly have.

Forget his awesome talent, talent that wasn't sufficient to get him past upset-minded Argentine Guillermo Canas yesterday and into today's semi-finals at the Tennis Masters Canada 2002.

It's the splash of colour the 20-year-old Russian brings to the court that makes him such an asset at a time when many observers suggest the men's game has less appeal than the women's side of the sport and is in danger of being flooded with robotic baseliners at the same time stars like Pete Sampras, Patrick Rafter and, eventually, Andre Agassi fade away.

Yesterday, in losing 7-5, 6-3 to Canas, Safin wore his emotions on his sleeve during the match, and seemed to come unglued to some degree as he tempestuously tossed racquets, argued line calls and, at one point, kissed the net cord as if to ask it to treat his shots more generously.

In his post-game interview, which seemed more like a heartfelt confession of sorts, Safin worried aloud over the state of his game despite being ranked No. 2 in the world, and seemed to indicate he's been having a major crisis of confidence since getting to the final of a Hamburg tournament in mid-May.

"I have to look for solutions, and I have to look quickly," said Safin. "Otherwise, I will go crazy."

Earlier, he lambasted himself for "having no balls" against Canas, essentially letting the lower-ranked player dictate the match in sweltering conditions at centre court.

"I feel so pathetic," said Safin. "I'm just laughing at myself."

All of this, it should be noted, was not uttered in a shower of tears or in a stormy rage, but with a relaxed, bemused attitude. Safin, it seemed, was answering questions openly and honestly, actually relating his inner emotions to an audience of captivated media members.

"I can't explain how frustrated I am," he said. "It just makes me feel so pissed, I can't describe it. (Canas) is a big fighter and I knew he would give everything. But I had so many chances to do something and I didn't do anything. I was waiting for a mistake.

"I had to go for it sometimes, and I didn't go. I just felt the train was running away and I couldn't catch it."

Any hacker, of course, could sympathize with those emotions, an inability to deliver their best play at their level in a tournament, even a lowly club event. While weekend players can't relate to the often-spectacular manner in which Safin launches his 6-foot-4 frame around the court, they can relate to his feelings and emotions in the same way many have often connected with Agassi, but not Sampras.

To be sure, Safin's repeated racquet throwing is childish, and he probably didn't give enough credit yesterday to Canas, who battled through a right wrist injury and was more creative at critical junctures.

Up 6-5 in the opening set with Safin serving and the game tied 15-15, Canas finessed a tricky volley that grazed the net cord for an untouchable winner. On set point, he made a similar shot on the other side of the court, this time on a near-impossible half-volley off a Safin passing attempt.

With the second set tied 1-1, Canas created a perfect top-spin lob over Safin's head to win the third game and pull ahead for keeps.

Thus ended Safin's quest to regain the title he won in 2000 and follow up the first WTA tournament victory by his 16-year-old sister, Dinara Safina, last week in Poland with one of his own in Canada.

Venus and Serena, it would seem, don't have to worry quite yet about being challenged as the top sibling combo in tennis.



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Discussion Starter #2
Safin looks within after loss

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.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Here is a terrific article written by one of Marat's fans:


Marat Safin: Perpetual Spirit

I have been lining up a few great titles for my latest article, and - coincidentally or otherwise, following that frustrating quarterfinals defeat in Toronto - here are a few I came up with over the last few weeks (before I finally settled on the one that seemed to say it all):

ANGEL O DEMONIO, SIEMPRE YO

BAD BOY, MARAT…BAAAAD, BAAAAAD BOY!!!

BORN TO BE WILD

JAMES DEAN OF TENNIS

FREE SPIRIT

WILD CHILD

MARAT THE BRAT

I know, I know, a lot of your eyebrows are no doubt shooting up at the moment, and believe me, I can just picture the levitating brow and the ice in his deliciously accented voice asking, "Eh?", should Marat himself happen to be reading this. Well, hear me out, I say!

Watching Marat lately, I've been struck with how much he's improved his game - no one can say these days that Marat Safin is all brute force and power and nothing much else. He's learned to serve and volley, he comes to the net more often and wins the point, he's got much more incredible angles and depth in his strokes, and yes, he has developed "the touch", as they call it, the finesse in the sport that is so appreciated and admired.

Not that 'finesse' necessarily means that the Wild Child in Marat has been tamed - not by a long shot! Not for nothing has he been called "the James Dean of Tennis". I know for sure that half the thrill of watching Marat play is how unpredictable he gets out there. He waves and flails his arms, he looks up to the heavens beseechingly, he lets out a hoarse shout of disgust with himself when he makes a stupid error, or else mutters to himself with that powerful jaw clenched tightly.

(Side note: And after all that, people, I say to you - Marat Safin is one of the shyest, most gentle persons on this earth. Yes he is. He may shout and yell bloody curses on court, he may be a certified case of a racquet abuser, and he certainly seems like a fierce gladiator to contend with out there when his temper is boiling. But all of it is directed at himself. This is a person who would first tear himself limb from limb before he even thinks about inflicting hurt or harm on others. The very idea would be horrifying to this soft-spoken gentle giant. : Sorry for the digression, but just had to discuss that particular point, which I don't think a lot of people have considered. )

The thing that he does that I least enjoy of Marat's "antics" is when he throws the racquet. It just doesn't look good, and it's a dead giveaway showing just how frustrated and unfocused he is. I don't know why or how exactly, but the racquet smashing sends a very clear signal, on a totally different level, of how much he's losing confidence and concentration and faith in himself. Not to mention that it just plain looks ugly.

So this year I have been watching delightedly as Marat, ever the free spirit, has been slowly substituting other less destructive "therapies" for his infamous on-court temper explosions - displaying his soccer skills with the ball, biting or kissing (!) the net or the ball, taking what I call "towel breaks" to regain his composure. And these tactics have been working well! Despite not winning any tournament this year (apart from Liverpool), he has consistently been near the top of the rankings, and he has made good results in the majority of the venues he's played. He's healthy and fit, he's learned a lot in the past 2 years, he has a little bit more experience under his belt, and he's had more time to get used to being in the spotlight.

So why hasn't he won a title yet this year, barring Liverpool? With all those positives added to his already astounding game, it is quite a baffling question why Marat keeps hitting and missing.

I'm inclined to think that he gives himself way too little credit with how much talent he already possesses. That's how I feel, really - his game is practically perfect, he should be invincible at this stage in his career, but that mental thing is so fragile. Like that last match against Guillermo Canas, that was a classic case of self-destruction at its most painful. Not that Canas didn't play a great game, nor that Marat didn't try - but the thing is, your opponent sees you crack like that, and it's a tremendous psychological boost to his game, and pretty soon you find yourself trying TOO hard.

And maybe the bottom line is this - Marat seems scared, somehow, scared that he won't win another trophy, scared that he isn't living up to his potential, scared that he can't do any of it ever again. Scared that he's losing respect. And he wants that respect above all, and he wants it badly, so much that he stresses himself out when he's out there on court. The problem is, he's wound up so tight with his own imagined fears and expectations that he's tripping himself up.

Whereas when he's playing relaxed, and even almost with a lazy, loose attitude, that's when he proves the most dangerous.

Have you ever seen the movie Pushing Tin, starring John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton? It's about the stress of being an Air Traffic Controller - you can't afford to make a mistake, thousands of lives are in your hands with every degree you dictate, every minute inch of airspace you direct blind pilots to. There's one line from that film that's really fitting for Marat at this point in his career: He has to let go. If he tries too hard to control the skies, the more that accidents and disasters will come his way. He has to loosen up, and to give up the control, in order to gain it. Does that make sense to you? It does to me! Let go, Marat! That is all the "balance" you need, that you spoke of before - the consistency that you crave will come when you learn to let go.

And whether you display the angel or the devil in you out there on court, know that above and beyond the admiration, the adulation, the awe and wonder that you inspire when you walk out there with your racquet and "do your job" - you have first and foremost our respect. For your talent and skill, for your athletic ability, for your independence and fire. For the perpetual spirit in you that won't be tamed. Perhaps in time you will be able to master the "wild child", the "brat", the "rebel", but I don't think he will ever be tamed…. and I know that your true-blue die-hard fans will not have it any other way.

Let go and soar, Marat! Claim the skies. I believe in you!

Isabelle 04.08.02
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Rusedski pushes all the wrong buttons for Safin


Associated Press
Monday, August 5


MASON, Ohio -- Marat Safin kicked the courtside clock and repeatedly screamed in disgust Monday night, losing his composure and a first-round match to Greg Rusedski in the Masters Series Cincinnati.


The unseeded Rusedski rallied to win the first-set tiebreaker, then took advantage as second-seeded Safin unraveled, finishing off a 7-6 (7), 6-2 victory.


Andre Agassi was pushed to three sets in his first-round match before beating Morocco's Younes El Aynaoui 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in 90-degree heat.


Fifth-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov and 10th-seeded Roger Federer also were knocked out in the first round. Germany's Rainer Schuettler beat Kafelnikov 6-3, 6-2, and Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic edged Federer 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.


The biggest upset involved Safin, who is ranked No. 2 in the world and is known for smashing rackets and screaming when things go wrong.


He got ahead 5-2 in the first-set tiebreaker, then tensed his arms, threw his head back and yelled after missing a forehand that would have moved him to set point. Safin then imploded, and Rusedski finished off the 52-minute set with his fifth ace.


''It means you have no confidence,'' Safin said. ''You miss a shot and everything is turning around, everything is going against you. It means you're in bad shape, you're in a bad mood and you're not playing well.''


His mood got much worse after he lost his serve to start the second set, then the first point of the next game. Safin walked to the courtside clock and kicked it hard, sending a resounding ''boom'' across center court as the clock tottered.


As the set played out, Safin stopped screaming and started merely waving his arms and dropping his head in disgust. He quickly walked off the court with head down when it ended, unsure what had happened.


''I'm so lost that I can't find out what I can do to come back and play well,'' he said. ''I'm supposed to be No. 1 (in the world) and I'm supposed to win some big tournaments this year. I've had chances, but I didn't do it. I don't know what to do.''


Rusedski knew what to do -- play steady and let Safin self-destruct. Rusedski had only 16 unforced errors; Safin had 30.


''You've got to stay on him,'' Rusedski said. ''You can see sometimes he gets upset on the court, but then he can come back. He can go up and down a little bit.''
 

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Rusedski romps past Safin
9:46am Tuesday, 06th August 2002


Greg Rusedski produced a shock win over Marat Safin to reach the second round of the Masters Series in Cincinnati.

His straight sets win over Safin, the second seed and world number two, was the biggest upset of the tournament so far.

There were no break points as the first 12 games of the match went with serve to force a tiebreak.

Rusedski was in trouble at 4-6 down in the tiebreak, but first a net cord and then a typical booming serve got the Brit back into contention and he went on to win it 9-7.

A break at the start of the second set put Rusedski firmly in control, and he finished off the Russian in style with a thunderous ace, clinching a 7-6 6-2 win.

Afterwards, Rusedski said he knew keeping the pressure on Safin would give him every chance of winning.

He said: "You've got to stay on him. You can see sometimes he gets upset on the court. He goes up and down a little bit."

It was a frustrating evening for Safin, who lost his discipline and patience after an unforced error in the crucial first-set tie-breaker.

Leading 5-2 he missed a relatively routine forehand which would have given him set point.

Safin said: "You miss a shot and everything is turning around, everything is going against you.

"It means you're in bad shape, you're in a bad mood and you're not playing well."

Safin then lost his serve at the start the second set, and in frustration he kicked the courtside clock in the next game.

"I'm so lost that I can't find out what I can do to come back and play well," he added.

"I'm supposed to win some big tournaments this year. I've had chances, but I didn't do it. I don't know what to do."
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Safin: "I like New York"



Russia's Marat Safin, the 2000 US Open champion, is still bidding to win his first title of the season. His results in the previous Grand Slams have put him as one of the favourites at Flushing Meadows from August 26 to September 8. Read on to find out more on Marat Safin.

Safin entered the tennis record books in 2000 as the first player to beat Pete Sampras in straight sets in a Grand Slam final. It is definitely one of the most memorable moments for the towering 22-year-old.

However, what the Russian star treasures the most is his first visit to the Big Apple in 1998, despite his loss to Sampras. He likes the city because "it is not like the other cities in the U.S. It is more European, it is different" he said.


Safin, known for his volatile temper on the court, enjoys the atmosphere at New York's Flushing Meadow. "It’s easy to play well there," he said. Hopefully this year's ambience in New York will help the Russian control his frustration.

As every young player, Safin loves to go out in New York City and he told Eurosport that the best evening setting is dinner with his friends. He remembers going out, last year, to a Japanese restaurant with Mats Wilander and Diego Perez and having a "great dinner".

The terrorist attacks in New York on September 11, two days after the tournament ended, have however marked the players forever. Safin, like Serena Williams and many others, know that this year the atmosphere will be different: "not seeing the Twin Towers, it will be sad to think about what happened there but we have to move on, like for everything else in life," said Safin.

Despite not having won a tournament this season, the Russian is currently ranked No.2 in the Champions Race, 103 points behind Hewitt. The 200 points awarded at the US Open will be crucial for the young player if he wants to finish the year on top.

Eurosport : Alejandra Sanchez 07/08/02
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Safin stymied by illness, poor play

From tennisreporters.net

By Sandra Harwitt



FROM THE RCA CHAMPIONSHIPS IN INDIANAPOLIS – Times have been tough for Marat Safin lately, and they just got worse, as the Russian heads towards the U.S. Open in a couple of weeks time.

Since reaching the semifinals at Roland Garros, the best Safin has done is reach the quarterfinals of Toronto, where he fell to eventual champion Guillermo Canas 7-5, 6-3. At Wimbledon, considered a favorite on the grass surface, Safin floundered against the 11-inch-shorter Olivier Rochus of Belgium, who stands just 5', 5" tall, in the second round. And at Cincinnati last week, Safin couldn’t survive a first round beating by Greg Rusedski.

Clearly, what Safin is in need of is a good dose of confidence and some serious match play. But that will not be the case here at the RCA Championships in Indianapolis since the No 2 seed has withdrawn from the competition, stymied by an upper respiratory viral infection.

“I’ve been in bed and I have not been able to do anything the last couple of days,” said the 22-year-old Safin, a runner-up here in 2000 and a semifinalist in 2001. “I have some medicine and hope to get better in the next few days.”

Just a couple of years ago, Safin utilized his big-time game to become the surprise '00 U.S. Open champion. That fortnight highlighted the immense talent that Safin possesses; his serve is quite frankly humongous and his groundstrokes pack a ton of ammunition.

But what quickly came to the surface is that Safin has as great an ability to win major titles as he did to squander opportunities because he couldn’t mentally keep it together. This year has turned into a stunning example of how Safin is capable of losing his focus.

The odds-on favorite in the Australian Open final, he watched helplessly as Swede Thomas Johansson walked away with a four-set victory because he couldn’t work out a winning game plan.

In 14 tournaments played this year, not including two Davis Cup outings, Safin’s best showing was the final in Melbourne and the final at the TMS-Hamburg, where he lost to Roger Federer.

“I’m just playing bad,” Safin said after his first round disaster at Cincy. “I have no confidence, I don't feel it. I have no confidence and it's really sad that the train is going away and I cannot jump on it. It's really sad. “But right now in this moment, I have nothing to beat all these guys, I have nothing. I am just going on the court ... I am just playing my match. I am making a great match, a few good points, people they can clap me and that's it. That's all I am doing. It is ridiculous. I am not satisfied with my game. I am not satisfied the way I am playing and it's not my game, and I am not enjoying it anymore, playing this way.”
 

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Discussion Starter #10
us open preview

From usopen official's site (usopen.org):

``Marat Safin; Russia

The mercurial Marat Safin has replaced Goran Ivanisevic as tennis' version of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. At times a vision of athletic artistry, the 2000 Open champ can give way to racquet-smashing demonstrations at any minute. If Safin wants to make a serious run at a second US Open title in three years, he must keep his emotions in check for two weeks. He will have to dedicate his energy and emotions solely on his game.``
 

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Discussion Starter #11
US Open seed profile of Marat from BBC Sport.com:

When it comes to flair, power and all-round talent, few can match Safin on court, but the Russian is often let down by one important factor - himself.

After winning the 2000 US Open title at the tender age of 20, the young star was tipped to take the tennis world by storm.

But injury and disappointment have taken its toll on the flamboyant character, who marked his Flushing Meadows success by bringing a crate of chilled vodka with him to a news conference.

He dropped down the rankings in 2001, and, despite being the hot favourite to win the Australian Open at the start of this year, Safin suffered a surprise defeat to unheralded Thomas Johansson in the final.

He made it to the semi-finals of the French Open, losing tamely to Juan Carlos Ferrero, but only reached the second round of Wimbledon a few weeks later.

Safin will be hoping to reverse this run of results at Flushing Meadows, where he could be inspired by a return to the scene of his greatest success.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Mal Washington's Analysis from Espn.com:

Marat Safin
Safin is a guy who continues to baffle. I had so much respect for his game a year ago, and yet he continues to take for granted his ability to hit a tennis ball. If he would actually take his career seriously, he would have two or maybe three major championships to his name. Talent isn't his problem. But his ability to focus on one thing and one thing only and that's tennis. Him winning the U.S. Open in 2000 told the world that he was a great talent and we all believed it, but the problem is he believed it and thought it would come easy.

At some point he'll look back and regret lost time. Just hope that he doesn't look back when he's 30 years old because then it's too late. He has the ability to win one or two majors per year for the next few years. But it will never happen unless he's willing to commit to tennis 100 percent of the time. If he doesn't do that, he might never win another major.
 

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Thanks Jessi! I'll bet with Malavai that Marat will win another GS, or else Marat said he'll shoot himself, lmao!

Marat please win, I'm tired of listening to boring winner's speeches! I want humor, I want that sexy accent, I want to see that sexy smile, I want YOU to win, pleaseeeeeeeeeeee! :D :D
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Great article

SAFIN IN THE AIR IS COOL

By Alix Ramsay


For one who is supposed to be wasting his talent, Marat Safin has not done too badly. He is still but 22, has won a Grand Slam tournament, has appeared in the final of another, banked more than 7 million dollars in prize money, and is ranked 2nd in the world. If only he had eaten his greens and done his homework, who knows what he could have achieved by now?

The Russian thought he had cracked it two years ago. He began the year charged with "not giving his best effort" - tanking, for want of a better word - during the Australian Open. Then, with a change of coach and a new attitude, he started winning tournaments and marched on New York and the US Open with nothing to lose. He had a sneaking suspicion that he could beat anyone, given half a chance. Eventually, he overcame Pete Sampras in the final, and suddenly he was one of the big boys.

On occasion he has shown signs of rediscovering that form, but it has not lasted long. In Melbourne in Jan, the path seemed clear towards the Aust Open, but it did not happen. Confused messages from his doctor left him feeling lethargic in the semi-finals, a bevy of blondes who followed his every footstep proved a distraction, and Thomas Johansson proved too strong in the final when Safin seemed unable to hit a barn door at 10 paces.

Now he is heading back to Flushing Meadow with his confidence wearing thin, and the world whispering "wastrel" as he passes. That is his greatest problem - everyone seems to know what is best for his 6ft 4in, 14 st affable frame. They tut-tut - if only he has a regular coach.... if only he practised more.... if only he would concentrate.... And they are driving him potty.

"Im living my life" he reflects. "Im not living the life of anybody else. I know what im doing, and ive been doing it for a long time. The better I get, the more people like this I get. They advise me to get a coach, to do like this, to live like this; I should do this, I should wake up at this time or go to sleep at that time; dont eat this. If I were winning five Grand Slams and being No1 for a long time, the people will still say that I can be much better. You have to live with this, and I try not to react to that".

Not that Safin is complaining, merely explaining. He is eloquent in several languages, funny and a charmer. Unlike so many professional sportsmen, he does not take himself too seriously.

"Im doing bad things, Im doing good things, and im satisfied with that. Im like any other person in the world who wants to live his life. Of course im doing stupid things, of course im making mistakes in my life, so I dont want to be the centre of attention. Im okay with myself".

That said, he cannot help being the focus of attention - and not only to his blonde admirers. He is a big man with a big game and, on his day, he has the beating of anyone. On a bad day he smashes his racquet, apppeals to the heavens for guidance, and does not so much wear his heart on his sleeve as give it to the crowd for safe keeping. He is a celebrity whether he likes it or not, though he maintains: "A star is in the sky - and thats it".

His coaching history is rich and varied. From the early days with Rafael Mensua in Spain, he has moved through Alexei Chesnokov and Alexander Volkov, stopping briefly to take advice from Mats Wilander and Tony Pickard. At the moment he is working with Amit Noah, known in the locker room as "Armpit".

Two years ago, life was simple: happy days when he was one of the wave of young hopefuls, but a time when no-one expected anything of him. Now he goes back with a reputation to live up to; now he is supposed to be able to win. And that can be hard to live up to, especially when you have to play Nicholas Kiefer in the 1st round, and possible Gustavo Kuerten in the 2nd.

"Its a Grand Slam, you want to win a Grand Slam" he confirms. "Im counting the Grand Slams. I have one title, and one final. Its nothing, but every time I play in a Grand Slam, there is extra motivation to win it. Sometimes its difficult to play because you want is so badly that it just blocks you; you cant give your best. And also to finish No 1 in the world, that what keeps my motivated in tennis.

"But you cannot play with the pressure, you cannot play great tennis with the pressure. Its difficult. Every time you go out on the court, already you are thinking: 'I have to win this match.' Nobody has to win this match, you can lose this match - its 50-50. It depends how well you play. Thats all."

He knows that he can win, and he definitely wants to win, but whether he will reach the second week or not is anybody's guess. That is the beauty of Safin. All he insists on is the freedom to enjoy his life as he sees fit. He is young, he is talented and he is good looking - give the boy a break.

"You never know what's going to happen in your life, and if you dont enjoy it now, when are you going to enjoy? When you are 30 and when you are 40, its already too late because your best years are between 20 and 40. So you have to try to have fun. Just enjoy it and do whatever you like, and just listen to the people closest to you. You cant listen to everyone. Just live, just enjoy"

In a world of one-dimensional money-makers, tennis needs the character of Safin more that Safin needs tennis. His philosophy may not win him the title in 2 weeks time, but no-one can argue with the engaging logic.
 

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Great articles!
Do you know where to get a transcript of his interview in David Letterman...'cause I failed to watch it!!!
All I had to do was to stay awake!
 

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25th August 2002
Source: www.scotlandonsunday.com
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For one who is supposed to be wasting his talent, Marat Safin has not done too badly. He is still but 22, has won a Grand Slam tournament, has appeared in the final of another, banked more than 7 million dollars in prize money, and is ranked 2nd in the world. If only he had eaten his greens and done his homework, who knows what he could have achieved by now?

The Russian thought he had cracked it two years ago. He began the year charged with "not giving his best effort" - tanking, for want of a better word - during the Australian Open. Then, with a change of coach and a new attitude, he started winning tournaments and marched on New York and the US Open with nothing to lose. He had a sneaking suspicion that he could beat anyone, given half a chance. Eventually, he overcame Pete Sampras in the final, and suddenly he was one of the big boys.

On occasion he has shown signs of rediscovering that form, but it has not lasted long. In Melbourne in Jan, the path seemed clear towards the Aust Open, but it did not happen. Confused messages from his doctor left him feeling lethargic in the semi-finals, a bevy of blondes who followed his every footstep proved a distraction, and Thomas Johansson proved too strong in the final when Safin seemed unable to hit a barn door at 10 paces.

Now he is heading back to Flushing Meadow with his confidence wearing thin, and the world whispering "wastrel" as he passes. That is his greatest problem - everyone seems to know what is best for his 6ft 4in, 14 st affable frame. They tut-tut - if only he has a regular coach.... if only he practised more.... if only he would concentrate.... And they are driving him potty.

"Im living my life" he reflects. "Im not living the life of anybody else. I know what im doing, and ive been doing it for a long time. The better I get, the more people like this I get. They advise me to get a coach, to do like this, to live like this; I should do this, I should wake up at this time or go to sleep at that time; dont eat this. If I were winning five Grand Slams and being No1 for a long time, the people will still say that I can be much better. You have to live with this, and I try not to react to that".

Not that Safin is complaining, merely explaining. He is eloquent in several languages, funny and a charmer. Unlike so many professional sportsmen, he does not take himself too seriously.

"Im doing bad things, Im doing good things, and im satisfied with that. Im like any other person in the world who wants to live his life. Of course im doing stupid things, of course im making mistakes in my life, so I dont want to be the centre of attention. Im okay with myself".

That said, he cannot help being the focus of attention - and not only to his blonde admirers. He is a big man with a big game and, on his day, he has the beating of anyone. On a bad day he smashes his racquet, apppeals to the heavens for guidance, and does not so much wear his heart on his sleeve as give it to the crowd for safe keeping. He is a celebrity whether he likes it or not, though he maintains: "A star is in the sky - and thats it".

His coaching history is rich and varied. From the early days with Rafael Mensua in Spain, he has moved through Alexei Chesnokov and Alexander Volkov, stopping briefly to take advice from Mats Wilander and Tony Pickard. At the moment he is working with Amit Noah, known in the locker room as "Armpit".

Two years ago, life was simple: happy days when he was one of the wave of young hopefuls, but a time when no-one expected anything of him. Now he goes back with a reputation to live up to; now he is supposed to be able to win. And that can be hard to live up to, especially when you have to play Nicholas Kiefer in the 1st round, and possible Gustavo Kuerten in the 2nd.

"Its a Grand Slam, you want to win a Grand Slam" he confirms. "Im counting the Grand Slams. I have one title, and one final. Its nothing, but every time I play in a Grand Slam, there is extra motivation to win it. Sometimes its difficult to play because you want is so badly that it just blocks you; you cant give your best. And also to finish No 1 in the world, that what keeps my motivated in tennis.

"But you cannot play with the pressure, you cannot play great tennis with the pressure. Its difficult. Every time you go out on the court, already you are thinking: 'I have to win this match.' Nobody has to win this match, you can lose this match - its 50-50. It depends how well you play. Thats all."

He knows that he can win, and he definitely wants to win, but whether he will reach the second week or not is anybody's guess. That is the beauty of Safin. All he insists on is the freedom to enjoy his life as he sees fit. He is young, he is talented and he is good looking - give the boy a break.

"You never know what's going to happen in your life, and if you dont enjoy it now, when are you going to enjoy? When you are 30 and when you are 40, its already too late because your best years are between 20 and 40. So you have to try to have fun. Just enjoy it and do whatever you like, and just listen to the people closest to you. You cant listen to everyone. Just live, just enjoy"

In a world of one-dimensional money-makers, tennis needs the character of Safin more that Safin needs tennis. His philosophy may not win him the title in 2 weeks time, but no-one can argue with the engaging logic.
 

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lord I just love him

I taped his match yesterday and watched all 4.5 hours of it twice from midnight to 8 this morning.
:hearts: :kiss: :hearts: :kiss:
 

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Discussion Starter #18
drf716 said:
Do you know where to get a transcript of his interview in David Letterman...'cause I failed to watch it!!!
Here you go drf! Enjoy! :D

Marat Safin with David Letterman

11 September 2000

(Cheers and applause)

Dave: I'm mispronouncing the man's name. marat safin. marat safin. I've been saying marat safin. it's maratsafin.

Paul: oh, it' ssafin, accent on the...on the...

Dave: hope they don't take away the emmy. (laughter) yesterday at a surprise upset, our first guest defeated pete sampras to win the u.s. open tennis champion, becoming the only russian-born player ever to earn the singles championship. here's marat safin, ladies and gentlemen.

(cheers and applause)

(band playing) thank you very much for being here.

Marat: nice to be here.

Dave: quite a day, huh?

Marat: tough one. I didn't sleep even one hour.

Dave: you haven't slept one hour?

Marat: yes.

Dave: well, what's the problem? out celebrating, I guess, right?

Marat: no, I had my friends who were with me, so they wanted to...

Dave: did you go nuts? what do you do after you win a major championship like this? what happens? take us through that. they give you the trophy, then what happens?

Marat: then what happens? everything is coming to you. all the press, you have to talk. I played one hour and a half, and I met the press for already 25 hours. (laughter)

Dave: so the match only lasted 90 minutes, and you've been talking to press 25 hours.

Marat: yes.

Dave: so did you celebrate, did you have dinner, did you have a party? was it crazy, was it...

Marat: yeah, especially it was a nice dinner, really good atmosphere.

Dave: where did you have dinner?

Marat: sarafino.

Dave: oh!

Marat: yes. (laughter and applause)

Dave: and did you... now, you say it's all your friends, and did you, like, go to a club? are you drunk now? did you... (laughter) do you drink?

Marat: a little bit.

Dave: yeah. what were you drinking?

Marat: vodka.

Dave: vodka.

Paul: what do you expect?

Dave: vodka. (cheers and applause)

Paul: what do you expect?

Dave: now, as a top tennis star of the day... and now you're ranked number three in the world. is that where you are?

Marat: I didn't have a chance to look at it.

Dave:where were you ranked going into the tournament?

Marat: huh?

Dave: I say, where were you ranked going into the tournament? what was your ranking before the tournament?

Marat: seven.

Dave: seven.

Marat: and I was thinking about just staying in the top ten.

Dave: yeah, so I'll bet you did stay in the top ten. (laughter) seems unlikely that you would lose positions after winning the championship.

Marat: yeah, but now I'm looking forward to, you know, to a big opportunity to be number one in the world.

Dave: why, I think you probably could be number one. but see, now this brings us back to my point. should you be drinking as a... (laughter) you don't drink regularly, do you?

Marat: no, every day. (laughter and applause) for breakfast, for...

Dave: breakfast? (cheers and applause) every day for breakfast.

Marat: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Dave: for breakfast you have wheaties and "wodka." (laughter)

Marat: yes. and the cookies sometimes.

Dave: and cookies. (laughter) tell us a little bit about yourself. tell us, were you born in russia? tell us where. tell us how you came to the game of tennis. tell us, you know, everything you can here.

Marat: okay. my name is marat safin.

Dave: all right, all right. (laughter and applause) we've covered that.

Marat: I was born 20 years ago in the small city of moscow.

Dave: when did you start playing tennis? from moscow?

Marat: yes.

Dave: do you go back there now? have you been back there now? have you been back recently?

Marat: now, I win a little bit of money, so I can pay a ticket to go to moscow. (laughter)

Dave: is your family still there?

Marat: yeah.

Dave: so now, are you, like, a big star in moscow? you must be now after this victory, right?

Marat: I don't know yet.

Dave: you don't know yet, sure.

Marat: we'll see. (laughter)

Dave: and how old were you when you started playing tennis?

Marat: I was six.

Dave: six years old.

Marat: but I didn't want to play tennis. I didn't like it. but my parents, they push me. (laughter) I wanted to be a soccer player.

Dave: right.

Marat: you know, it's a typical european game. and then my parents, they decided that I'm not going to be a good soccer player, so they decided to push for tennis.

Dave: well, it worked out, didn't it? worked out pretty well. now, your mother was your coach for a while. she was also a tennis player?

Marat: yeah, until 14 years old.

Dave: and does she still coach you? does she still have advice for your game?

Marat: not anymore in the game, but in the life senses. (laughter)

Dave: in what?

Marat: in life.

Dave: oh, in life. well, you should listen to your mother. that's great.

Marat: of course, of course.

Dave: tell mom about the "wodka." (laughter and applause) was it earlier this year you were in a tournament-- maybe it was california, I'm not sure-- and you were not doing very well in the tournament, and you actually considered giving up the game of tennis.

Marat: yeah, because I was tired. I couldn't win one set-- nothing much, one set. can you believe it? and actually, I get the fine at the beginning of this year because of tanking.

Dave: I'm sorry.

Marat: because of tanking. you know tanking?

Dave: tanking?

Marat: yes. not trying, not trying. (laughter)

Dave: oh, tanking a match, tanking a match.

Marat: yes.

Dave: oh, they said you weren't trying to win. now, were you? you were trying to win, of course.

Marat: of course, of course.

Dave: but they said you were tanking. oh, my god. so how do you go from that situation-- which was just a matter of months ago, right?-- how do you go from that, to now winning the u.s. open? and not only winning the u.s. open, defeating pete sampras in straight sets. how do you make that journey? and I'm guessing it's mostly mental, not so much physical, right?

Marat: no, just get tired of winning two games each time against other guys, and I decide to ... just to change something.

Dave: now, what did you change?

Marat: I start to fight. you know, I've start to win one set, after I start to win a match, and suddenly I win a tournament.

Dave: now I've noticed... (applause) I've noticed that you've broken equipment in the past. is that right? you've actually broken rackets?

Marat: yes.

Dave: yes. (laughter)

Marat: I used to do this.

Dave: does that help you as a player? does that help focus you? or does that actually dissipate your energy and concentration?

Marat: just...the problem is that you have to pay after you break the racket. (laughter) you have to pay a fine.

Dave: oh, they fine you for that.

Marat: no, no, they say thank you, you are doing well. (cheers and applause)

Dave: and after you have an episode like that, does that help your game, or are you... does it take a while to recover from an episode like that?

Marat: during five months, it was...I broke, like, 15 rackets.

Dave: 15.

Marat: yes, in four months.

Dave: yeah.

Marat: so it didn't help me at all.

Dave: didn't help you at all. (laughter)

Marat: and now I break, like, 20 more in 6 months, and start to help sometimes. (laughter and applause)

Dave: here's an example I think we can all relate to that may be similar to what you go through. when you're driving on the freeway and somebody cuts you off, you get road rage. and suddenly it's not safe for you to be driving, because you're full of the road rage. (laughter) you know what I mean?

Marat: again, again, with the hands... yeah, yeah. (laughter)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Cont'd

Dave: so then, what I always do, and I think what the Triple A suggest you do, is pull over until the road rage passes. but if you continue to drive under the influence of road rage, you might cause an accident. now, that's similar to your position in tennis, isn't it?

Marat: yes, I was very close to it. yes. (laughter) actually, I felt the same situation yesterday.

Dave: now, how do you... you've beaten pete sampras before?

Marat: I don't know how. I can't remember. I don't know, but I beat him in toronto.

Dave: you beat him in toronto.

Marat: yeah, he gave me a present.

Dave: now, before the game started yesterday, and you're in the locker room getting ready, do you know you can beat him? do you think, oh, maybe I won't beat him? what is your level of confidence? what is your frame of mind before you meet the number one player in the world? what is that? what are you thinking?

Marat: in the locker room, I was so nervous. I was walking around. I didn't know what to do. I had to talk with everybody. and I thought, maybe I will have a chance. but at least I need to win one set, to show to people that I'm a player. (laughter)

Dave: right, right. and is the key to pete sampras being able to return his serve, so that he doesn't score as many aces? and if so, how do you deal with a 130-mile-an-hour serve?

Marat: you know very good tennis, you know?

Dave: I do?

Marat: yes, because it is right. you said right.

Dave: thank you very much. (cheers and applause) we've won awards. (laughter) so yesterday... (applause) how did it happen yesterday? you were able to return his serve, and you defeated him in straight sets. you broke his serve. how?

Marat: how? you want me to explain now? (laughter) it's difficult to explain, because sometimes you have to hit the ball with, you know, closed eyes. (laughter) which I did yesterday, sometimes. (laughter) it works.

Dave: pete sampras afterward said that you were the future of tennis. that's a very nice compliment, isn't it?

Marat: oh, thank you very much, thanks (applause) but it's only words, so I have to prove this.

Dave: that's right, yeah.

Marat: but because I respect a lot pete sampras, so I have to show to the people that he was right.

Dave: well, I think this is an excellent way to start, you know, winning this tournament. (laughter)

Marat: you think so?

Dave: yeah. do you know anna kournikova?

Marat: yeah, I know. (applause)

Dave: she's a countryman of yours, right?

Marat: I start play with her tennis almost in the same group

Dave: are you friends with her? are you friendly?

Marat: yes, yes.

Dave: do you see her all the time?

Marat: yeah, we came here for the first time ten years ago. she was nine, I was ten. we came here to see the indianapolis tournament. it was... she was already in the same way like she is now. (laughter and applause)

Dave: now, did she win a tournament this year?

Marat: where? (laughter)

Dave: I thought for sure she was going to win.

Marat: she has a chance. it's four months left.

Dave: do you think she'll ever win a major tournament.

Marat: If I'll be her coach, probably yes. (applause)

Dave: are you going to play in the olympics?

Marat: definitely.

Dave: that will be exciting, won't it? are you looking forward to going there?

Marat: yes. it's a long flight.

Dave: it's a very long flight, and it's just like a week or so away. will you rest up? will you play before you go down there?

Marat: yeah, of course.

Dave: you're playing before you go down? where are you playing?

Marat: I'm leaving in ten minutes, I have to leave.

Dave: to play where?

Marat: to play uzbekistan. you know where is it?

Dave: you're playing uzbekistan?

Marat: yes.

Dave: so you're going all the way back to europe, and then you've got to go to australia to play?

Marat: yes. it's on the way. it's close, very close. (laughter)

Dave: wow. well, that's... well, take along some hot towels. (laughter and applause)

Marat: it's broken. (Referring to the Trophy lid)

Dave: it's what?

Marat: it's broken.

Dave: it is broken. I didn't break that. there you are. congratulations. nice meeting you, marat. (cheers and applause)

Marat: thank you.

Dave: congratulations on being the u.s. open champion. Marat Safin, ladies and gentlemen. we'll be right back.

Dave: how about that...marat safin?

Paul: he was great!

Dave: that was it.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
An article fromm BBC Sport:

Safin ready to step up


Safin made an early exit from the US Open

Marat Safin is looking for an improvement in his own form as he prepares to lead Russia against Argentina in the Davis Cup semi-finals.

Gaudio expects stern test
Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov will be favourites to beat the Argentines on the fast carpet surface in Moscow's 13,000 capacity Luzhniki Sports Palace.

But world number four Safin has suffered a dramatic slump in form in the second half of the year and knows he must rediscover his touch by Friday.
"I'm trying to improve," he said. "I have a new coach and I think I'll be good. I'll be OK."

The pressure is on the home side, who have never won the Davis Cup, and Kafelnikov has made the event the sole focus for the rest of his career.


Kafelnikov may retire if Russia win the Davis Cup

But Safin refuses to understimate Argentina, despite their preference for claycout tennis.

"I think they have a good team," he said.

"Two of them are in the top 20 and (David) Nalbandian was in the finals of Wimbeldon, so he knows how to play on fast courts and I think it's going to be really tough.

"But we have our surface and we have our spectators and I think we are the favourites.

"It's going to be difficult but I think we will win"

Mikhail Youzhny and Andrei Stoliarov complete the Russian line-up.

Beaten finalists in 1994 and '95, Russia will be playing their third consecutive home tie but their first on carpet.

France and the United States will meet in the other semi-final in Paris on the clay courts at Roland Garros.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/2267240.stm
 
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