Could LA be Marat Safin's tourney to take?
The towering Russian opened the event by playing a rematch of the 2000 US Open final against a sleeveless-wearing Pete Sampras and winning again. Then, he defeated newly-crowned Indianapolis champ Robby Ginepri in the opening round followed by a doubles win with compatriot Igor Kunitsyn. Phew.
On Wednesday Marat upended the big hitting Latvian lad Ernest Gulbis 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 to reach his third consecutive quarterfinal in the City of Angels but very first of the year. He'll face Tommy Haas for a spot in the final four.
After completing this third match in four days he told the press:
It's getting tougher and tougher to play these kinds of matches, to fight when you're struggling and not playing well. It's difficult to motivate yourself and take care of your body. You have to spend much more time in a gym and practising. There are so many (other) things to do. I need some vacation, take half a year just to relax and realize that I'm not anymore a tennis player and to understand that there is life afterward.
I need to relax. There was so much stress throughout the years. There is no matches, there is no more match points, there is no more deuces, there is no more second serves. It's a different way of thinking and I need to take some time off to really understand it.
Surely it'll get tougher to get motivated for each match at each tourney as the deadline comes closer.
Here's hoping Marat makes good here, though. I'd love to see the big lug grab a title before he calls it a day, and with all the big boys on break this could be his best chance.
(images via getty)