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August 16, 2005

Marat Safin


THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, Marat Safin. Questions, please.

Q. Bit of a slow start today. Once you got going, how did it feel?

MARAT SAFIN: Well, it's a little bit normal because I've been out for one months and a half, and I've been injured actually. It was my first tournament, and I didn't really practice before the tournament. Only when I just came three days ago, I play for two hours each day. So it's normal. It's kind of difficult to come back and play in a high level. So I was also a little bit nervous, and that's why it was a little bit slow.

Q. How is the knee?

MARAT SAFIN: Still hurts a little bit. I am still afraid to move fast. Hopefully, it will get better. But a little bit it's hurting.

Q. Can you explain what happened after Wimbledon. Did you have an operation?

MARAT SAFIN: No, I didn't have the operation. I was lucky to get there on time. I've been inject with own blood. It's just a new system, a new thing now in - I don't know medical - whatever. So it's instead of surgery. Because it's like there is a cut ligament. So basically they injected your own blood with the rebuilding cells so the ligament goes together. And so it's produce a little bit faster because normally it takes like three to four months, this injury. I guess it took me one month and a half, but still I think I rushed it little bit. And hopefully I'll be okay. But normally it's like two months.

Q. If it wasn't for the US Open, would you have rested longer?

MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, of course. Because all the doctors was telling me to stay a little bit longer there, for another two weeks at least. I took a risk to come here and start a little bit early to prepare for the US Open. So I'm praying to God, you know, so I will be healthy and I will be able to play good tennis in the US Open.

Q. Will you be playing any more warm-up tournaments before the US Open now?

MARAT SAFIN: I am going to try to play New Haven probably because I need to play a couple of more matches, you know, to get used to it and work on my fitness and all these things, get the rhythm back.

Q. You say "probably." Will you just decide how you feel here?

MARAT SAFIN: I will decide how I feel here. If the leg will still hurt or the pain will increase, then I will just skip the New Haven and try to play US Open. If I am doing okay, then I will try to play New Haven just to get some more matches and then I am gonna fly into New York.

Q. Are you able to forget about it while you're playing?

MARAT SAFIN: It's kind of difficult because, like I said, it's the first match. It's still in the head. Because it's been -- when you feel a lot of pain in some moments, you try to avoid them, but it's a little bit difficult when you're playing really at the high level. But still today was -- after a couple of games, I start to forget about it and try to, you know, focus on my game. But it's kind of tough.

Q. Would you say that during the month and a half before you came here to practice, did you not practice at all or just a little bit of hitting?

MARAT SAFIN: No, I hit for 15, 30 minutes maximum for, I don't know, four, five days.

Q. How much did you miss being away from the tour and playing?

MARAT SAFIN: Of course you feel hungry, of course you want to play well, and of course when you watch your opponents, you know, other players doing well in Wimbledon and doing well in Montreal and the tournaments after Wimbledon and winning Davis Cup against France, you want to play, you want to come back and you want to play well. But for some reason, my knee couldn't take it anymore. I've been suffering for past five months, this injury. So I had to take a decision, you know, to stop. So now I'm hungry and I'm happy to be back. Hopefully I can recover faster, and hopefully I can get the confidence as fast as I can to, you know, be ready for US Open.

Q. You mentioned the Davis Cup. You don't play much doubles on the tour, but you have to in the Davis Cup. Do you enjoy playing doubles? And, if so, who do you like playing doubles with?

MARAT SAFIN: Well, we would try to play with Joachim Johansson. We started a couple of tournaments. In Rome we started to play, but I had to withdraw myself because of the knee. And the final in Halle with Federer and Allegro. And now he got injured. He will not come back until next year, so I have to find a new partner and also I have to see how the knee is going.

Q. Do you like doubles?

MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, but it has to be fun. Before I couldn't really enjoy it very much and I didn't really felt like playing. If you have a good partner, I think it's fun.

Q. You had such, obviously, a great Australian Open. You said the knee bothered you about five months. Do you think that's why you didn't carry over those kind of results the rest of the spring?

MARAT SAFIN: Well, I cannot blame to everything to my knee, but I took three weeks off after Australian Open because I had a very long autumn and I didn't really -- had to rest a little bit. And then I kind of lost a little of my confidence in Dubai and in Indian Wells. And then in Miami I started to really hurt myself, and I been struggling for all the spring.

Q. You said you lost your confidence in Dubai and Indian Wells?

MARAT SAFIN: No, it's not like one day you lose the confidence, you drop it somewhere. But it's been coming little bit along the way. I didn't play for three weeks, and then I had a couple of bad losses. And then it's starting to go a little bit downhill. And then also with the knee it's kind of difficult because I been playing like for one months, two months, one months and a half, two months with painkillers. Roland Garros I was playing with injections of -- an anesthetic injections because really I had a lot of pain.

Q. Last year at the US Open you said your confidence was very low and you went out early. This year, given your injury, will the pressure be off? Will you have lesser expectations?

MARAT SAFIN: Would be great not to have any pressure on yourself, but also you can -- I can see that I have to defend a lot of points in the fall, and I need to do really well if I want to maintain myself in the Top 10. So hopefully I will be -- hopefully I will be okay and hopefully I will be lucky with the draws and I'll be able to get through in the first week in US Open so that it can carry me until the end of the season. Because if you manage to get into the second week, then basically it means that you are playing well. And then Asia, Davis Cup. So hopefully I can maintain myself in the Top 10 or even Top 5, why not?

Q. The doctor said that the injury is something that will hurt while you continue to play for a while and then clear?

MARAT SAFIN: Well, he was -- the doctor was a little bit scared because it can increase, the pain can increase. Because for the moment it's okay, but then it can -- at some stage I can hurt myself more, even more. Because maybe you know the soccer player, Ronaldo, he had the same injury, kind of the same. He's been playing for -- he continue playing and then he hurt himself and he didn't play for two years. So I have a little bit similar, but is not -- I'm not in the same position. Because once you sign the contract, you can be injured, you can do whatever you want. But here, if you are not playing, you are going back to -- losing points, losing everything. And you need to really see what is better - to stop, to play, try to play. So I decided to try to play a little bit and try to see if it's gonna get better, if it's gonna get worse. If it's gonna get worser, then I will have to stop for another whatever time I need. But I will try to play until the end of the season.

Q. What's your plan after the US Open at this moment?

MARAT SAFIN: Oh, very busy (smiling). I'm flying to Asia and then I'm going back to Croatia to play Davis Cup and then I'm flying back to Asia to Bangkok, Tokyo, Moscow.

Q. Shanghai?

MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, Shanghai I am going as the winner of Australian Open. I was lucky (smiling).

Q. At this moment are you committed to going back to play the next round of Davis Cup?

MARAT SAFIN: Yeah. Our team is doing really well, so I'm back.

Q. You said your confidence went up and down a little bit. It was up certainly after the Australian Open. Did that answer any questions for you, though, that you could play that kind of amazing tennis and, you know, beat even the very best at their best? I mean, you may have -- it had been obviously five years since you'd won a Slam, four and a half.

MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, but I've been twice in the finals of Australian Open. I've been in semifinals of -- twice semifinals in US Open and Roland Garros. So kind of, you know, with a little bit of luck, I could have won another three or four, hypothetically. But I can manage only to win two, which is also not bad, but I was clearly in -- I should have won in 2002 I think against Johansson in the final of Australian Open. Didn't manage. I should have won -- in my opinion, I should have won the Roland Garros in 2003 when I lost in the semifinal against Ferrero.

Q. I'm sure who you beat, though, probably added to this year's Australian Open, beating Federer, beating Hewitt back-to-back. Did that mean even more, the way that happened?

MARAT SAFIN: Well, of course. I think this one, this one was more workable. I mean, like it has more value, this one, definitely. The way I played I think during the whole tournament was pretty amazing because in the first Grand Slam that I won in 2000 in US Open, I been struggling the whole first week and I was lucky to pass the second and third round when I was -- almost lost to Grosjean, almost lost to Pozzi. This one I been playing pretty good. Unfortunately, my career, it's a little roller coaster. So I need to get used to it, and that's how I am.

Q. Nikolay has had a really strong run this past year. Can you talk about what impresses you about Davydenko and the stride he's made in the game.

MARAT SAFIN: Davydenko, he surprise me actually this year. Because the way he started, because he didn't look like he gonna -- he expect from himself being in the Top 10. And the way he started, quarterfinals in Australian Open, and then he continued, he got the confidence, and he been solid for seven months. He had some great results, and he's confident, and he's improving his tennis. I mean, he doesn't miss one ball since I don't know how many months. And he's good baseliner. Improve his serve and volleys a little bit. He's okay. He manage it. So the confidence. It's all about the confidence. And he's much smarter player now when he goes in the court.

Q. Have you spoken to Yevgeny?

MARAT SAFIN: Not in long time. No, long time. I didn't speak to him for a long time already.

End of FastScripts….

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