Google Down the Line!: MARAT SAFIN: Struggling to find a place in the game

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

MARAT SAFIN: Struggling to find a place in the game

2-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin has always been somewhat of an enigma. Blessed with natural power and perfect technique, he is arguably the most talented player on the men's tour (next to a certain Swiss superstar.) The explosive Russian can defeat any player on his best day, but, with his tempermental nature and lack of consistency, lose to an unheralded journeyman on his worst. Time is not his friend, however. At 27, his best days may be behind him.

This year, hoping to turn around his game, Marat has hooked up with Hernan Gumy as his new coach. The 35-year-old Argentine, who formerly coached Guillermo Canas, Gustavo Kuerten and Guillermo Coria, is working with him through the hard-court season.

This week, Marat entered the Rogers Cup and lost in the second round to World No. 2 Rafael Nadal (their first meeting.) At a press conference after his first round match, the Russian spoke philosophically (and with his trademark humor) about his life, the current state of his game, and whether he can return to the elite level of men's tennis.

On where his life is at:
"...look at me now. Not bad for 10 years of career. Instead of that ... I'm doing the things that I love to do. So you know, I was lucky to catch the train. I have everything that I need. I have a good life. I'm flying business, first class. I have my friends coming to watch me. When I go to Moscow, I'm staying at a nice place, nice area, good neighbourhood, nice cars. So everything is great. So why I have to be frustrated?"

On what his life could be:
"In the worst scenario, the worst scenario, I would be a coach in some club in Russia, in Moscow, that nobody would even think about me" [...] "That's for sure not for me yet. I prefer to play tennis and be alone than to be working in a tennis club from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and having two kids to feed and a wife that is never happy. Sounds familiar or not?"

On the state of his game:
"Of course, you want to do a little better than you are doing ... But after all, if you thinking the big picture, it doesn't really matter ... If you want to play tennis, and I want to play tennis, I really want to try, I think everything can come back and everything can be improved."

On playing Rafa and the other young players:
"When the guys played against me before, yes, was different story. Not now ... Anything can happen, of course. I'm not going there and tank the match. I'm going to try to win it, of course. But I'm definitely not expecting anything great out of it."

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