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March 13, 2005

Marat Safin


THE MODERATOR: Ladies and Gentlemen, please go ahead for Marat Safin.

Q. How would you rate your volleying tonight? You won a lot of points at net.

MARAT SAFIN: Quite well. Actually, I won really important points. I saved two match points by volleying, just by going to the net even. Pretty good, actually.

Q. Is that something you're working on with Peter?

MARAT SAFIN: We're trying. We're trying because you need to adjust something else to your game because everybody coming with a new stuff and everybody's trying to work on all the shots. So you need to work also on the volley, try to improve it, try to come with something new.

Q. How difficult were the conditions out there?

MARAT SAFIN: Really, really tough because it's dark. It's also a little too windy, so it's difficult to serve, it's difficult to play from the baseline because one side is going really fast and other side, just the ball doesn't go anywhere. Sometimes it goes slow, sometimes it will bounce high, slow, low. It's a little bit difficult to play with these conditions, especially when it's the first day, because he already played yesterday. And also flying, the ball is flying here. So you need to be really, really careful with each -- with every shot.

Q. You said on Friday the first round is the hardest round. I guess you were pretty accurate. This one was tough.

MARAT SAFIN: It's not because of Saturday. It's just because I'm playing already for too long. Every first round on any surface is really tough because you need to get used to the court conditions. You see, today's was really windy, so it's really tough. A lot of surprises in the matches. You know, Santoro beat Johansson, so kind of for everyone it's really tough. For some people, it's more easier because they came a little bit -- suits a little bit more this kind of weather.

Q. Did you feel like your opponent played exceptionally well or was it more you not playing as well as you could?

MARAT SAFIN: No, I think we played really well because he has nothing to lose. He already played one match; he's already used to the conditions more or less. He was going for everything, and he was playing really, really well.

Q. There's no secret there's a big sports rivalry between Russia and Finland, especially in ice hockey. Do you think that gave him a little extra motivation?

MARAT SAFIN: Not really. Not really. Not really.

Q. You don't get up more to play the Finns?

MARAT SAFIN: No, because I don't really follow hockey. You know, I respect all the players. I know a lot of players from the hockey, but I'm not really a big fan of it. For some reason, you know, because probably I left Russia a long, long time ago, and I spend a lot of years in Spain, which is a country where the hockey doesn't exist. When I came back, I'm not playing myself. I forgot how to play hockey, so I'm not following it.

Q. I'm speaking in general terms.

MARAT SAFIN: I don't really care. I don't really care.

Q. So what was going through your mind on that match points?

MARAT SAFIN: I was really disappointed because I was starting to play well. Actually, second set I played pretty good, I mean, for that kind of conditions, you know. And to lose this kind of a match, you know, like to have -- because if you're playing bad and you lose, it's okay. But when you're trying to play well and you lose, it's a little bit bad, especially in a big tournament, it's a Masters Series, you want to do well, a lot of points in the game. I was pretty disappointed with myself, with everything, with the weather, with myself, the way Jarkko was playing.

Q. How are you feeling today physically and emotionally?

MARAT SAFIN: Good. I'm really happy that I pass the first round actually.

Q. And earlier?


Q. Up until the match and through the match? I mean, you're known as a player who knows how to enjoy the game.

MARAT SAFIN: Today is not really the day to enjoy tennis actually. Even for the spectators, we a little bit freezing. It's not really like the day you really enjoy tennis and you try to do and try to play your best game, because it's really impossible. You need to survive. You need to just hang in there, wait for your opportunities and just win the match ugly, which also counts. And the better days will come, you will enjoy more, you will feel better, and you can show something -- some great skills.

Q. You are often seen as the most entertaining performer in the game.

MARAT SAFIN: Thank you.

Q. It is a compliment. Congratulations.

MARAT SAFIN: Thank you very much. Thank you.

Q. If you could choose one tennis player in history to watch for entertainment value, the fun of it, the joy, spontaneity, unexpected qualities, who would it be?

MARAT SAFIN: Obviously, it's John McEnroe. You know the answer. I mean, like nobody could do better than him.

Q. You can't be serious?

MARAT SAFIN: Why not? He was pretty -- he had a pretty good character.

Q. You liked the way that he just defied all of the rules, all of convention?

MARAT SAFIN: Great. I think it's great for the sport.

Q. There should be more of that these days?

MARAT SAFIN: Well, nobody -- everybody's allowed to do whatever they want, but nobody wants. Everybody scares. I don't know. For some reason, maybe they're not really up to it, the players. You know, has to come naturally. You just cannot work on it and try to do something funny if you don't have it. You know what I mean (smiling)?

Q. No, I'm just -- it's really difficult to, you know, entertain people when you're playing a serious match because really it takes a lot of concentration away sometimes.

Q. But you have said in the past that there certainly are an awful lot of rules.

MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, a little bit. A little bit, yeah. Maybe the rules are a little bit more strict than it should be. But I guess the people who are working in ATP, you know, they have an idea where tennis is going, and whatever they want to do with the tennis, so that's why they are inventing the rules, so can you ask them.

Q. How cold was it out there? Did it get colder as the match went on? I understand the temperature dropped 15 degrees.

MARAT SAFIN: I was running. I was sweating. I didn't really felt the temperature difference.

Q. You didn't feel it?

MARAT SAFIN: No. I didn't get cold, no.

Q. What would be the single thing that you would attribute to your coach that brought your game, things aside of tennis, your character?


Q. The single most important thing that Lundgren actually contributed to your game and to your character.

MARAT SAFIN: I think it's confidence. You need to be confident and comfortable when you're going on a court. You need to have a support outside of the court. Because the coach, he can teach you on a practice how to hit a forehand, how to hit a backhand, he can work on the volley, serve, whatever you can do in the practice. But whenever you go to compete, you need to have a support, somebody who is hundred percent behind you, no matter what situation, no matter what the score is. Whenever you need help and support, he's there. That's what he gave me. He's there. I can trust him. He's just fully behind me. This is very important for every player before he goes to the match. Before probably I couldn't -- I didn't really get it because I was a little bit by myself on the court, and when I was not really feeling very well on the court, I had nobody to support me, to really support me. It's not only support actually, it's also how to support. You need to show it. And for that you need to be a professional coach and know what to do, and what you are doing and how to show to the player without showing it.

Q. Roger's performance without a coach over a good number of months, is that all the more credit to him?

MARAT SAFIN: Credit to whom? To Roger or to Peter?

Q. To Roger.

MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, but -- it's not really right to say that. Of course, I'm not going to defend Peter, you know. But also who brought him there? Who brought Roger Federer to be No. 1 in the world? Is Peter. Without taking any credit from the people around Roger right now, you know, the girlfriend, the mother, all the family, and also his tennis skills, I'm not taking any credit away from him. But to be able to get there, you need to have somebody. And he had somebody for six years. So he had such a good base before he got there. So he's basically playing on a base that Peter Lundgren gave him. And of course it's coming, the talent is coming , the mental toughness and all these things that he has right now. He worked for six years, for six years, yeah.

Q. What about playing Taylor Dent in the next round?

MARAT SAFIN: It depends on the weather. Depends on the weather. If it's going to be windy, it's going to be much tougher when it's hot, because he plays with a kind of a game without any rhythm. So he doesn't really get slice, forehand, serving well, chip-and-charging, you know, like make you feel uncomfortable on the court. Especially with the wind, it's more difficult to pass the player, and it's more difficult to return the serve. If it's going to be a normal day, then it's easier. Because no wind, nothing is bothering you, and it's much easier to play against these kind of players.

Q. Have you ever seen a guy like Santoro who has been able to drive so many people so crazy over the years, came through again today?

MARAT SAFIN: Me, too. He drove me crazy for many years. I'm his client. I lost to him already six times. Last time I beat him. But he's still there. He is a great talent of making people crazy on the court. He is a good anticipation, great anticipation. He knows how to play. He has a lot of years of experience. You can see that even Joachim Johansson, he's in great shape, and he's playing really great tennis and serving well, forehand, backhand, there is nothing really -- nothing is wrong with his game. Manage to lose Santoro. But this weather is really tough to play against a guy like Santoro, yes. Slicing, he doesn't give you any rhythm. He knows how to play.

Q. The other day you said the Davis Cup is the last chance for Russia to win, this year. How did you mean that?

MARAT SAFIN: Not like last chance, but last big chance, you know, because I don't really -- it came up this way that every match we're going to play we're going to play at home. That's what I meant. Because if you play like outside against the States or you play outside against Spain, I'm sorry, we don't have like three or five No. 10s in the world and Top 20s that can play on all surfaces, and they have a lot of experience of many years. You know, we don't have such incredible doubles. Working on that, but right now, this year, it's our big chance. We might have like, you know, if the people they end up playing, like Davydenko, Andreev, Youzhny, will get stronger and not get nervous in the matches of Davis Cup. Over the years, they're going to have experience, then we have a chance. But, believe me, it's really tough to play for your country, especially in surfaces that doesn't suit you.

Q. You said in an interview that "in our men's tennis, our tennis is (in Russian)." Are you willing to talk to the guys about it? Do you talk to them about it?

MARAT SAFIN: About what? It's like it has to come up from the young players, young kids, you know, who are 15, 16 years old to be able to have -- you have to be ambitious. You need to have goals, to be able to get to top hundred at least. But none of the players that I'm watching now - I've been in Moscow now for quite long, for one month - we have like four kids maybe. I don't know if they going to break through.

Q. You meant youth tennis; you didn't mean the three you just named?

MARAT SAFIN: No. These already playing. Two guys Top 20. It's already more or less they achieve something, some level in tennis. But the rest, tennis in Russia, the young kids, I don't know if they going to come up to top hundred because the way they are practicing, the way they are doing things, I don't really see that they're going to become something good out of it. I hope I'm wrong, but is what I see. It's a little bit -- unfortunately is not the way it should be.

End of FastScripts….

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