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January 30, 2005
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. When did it start to come around for you? You were down 4-1 in the third set.
MARAT SAFIN: Actually, it was getting better after the first set actually. But even though that I was 4-1 down, but it was a little bit easier, you know, because I was waiting for opportunities, even though that I was a little bit scared, I was nervous, and I couldn't do much over there. But I still had already the hope that I can turn around the match. But after the first set it was like I couldn't believe that I could play so badly and I could be so nervous and I couldn't just do anything against it. But then I won the second set even though, like I said, and third set. But still, I was hoping.
Q. You cried out in this despair at one point in the third set, "What can I do?" That wasn't your entire quote.
MARAT SAFIN: Of course, you get pissed. You get pissed at yourself because you can see you are so close to win the title. At the same time you are very far away. Like it's going further and further away from you. And just you can see that you can play completely different tennis, you can play better, much better tennis than I was doing before 4-1. In the third set, just all of a sudden, it all turn around completely in a way I couldn't expect, actually. Because all of a sudden he made a couple of mistakes, I was a little bit lucky at some point, then again, the confidence again, I was back in the game because I was not break down anymore and I was already playing better and better with more confidence. And once I got back the break, I could go for a little bit more and could just -- I could risk it a little bit more than before. Because before I was really passive and I couldn't do much. I was missing all around. I couldn't serve. I couldn't run. I couldn't hit one down the line properly to open the court. Just I was so disappointed, I was just -- I was really pissed at myself.
Q. It's been a long time since 2000 when you won the US Open. Were you beginning to think that it might not happen again?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, it's just in a way more psychological thing. Just it comes because you can -- 2000, I have to forget about the final in 2000 because everything came so easy and it came in the most unexpectable (sic) way. Then I found myself that I lost two finals, basically two finals here. The first final I should have won. At least in the second one I should have little bit more chances than that, in the first set against Federer. And just you start to have doubts with yourself, you know, like really I could do this or not. Because it's the third time -- third time in a final, you playing against Hewitt, you beat Roger Federer. Basically you have a huge chance to beat him. Last time I beat him quite comfortable even though we played in Paris and second set was really tough. But I was really feeling that I can beat him. Then just I just get so nervous, get so uptight because it's last match. You understand the situation. It's last match, you have to give your best, and I don't want to lose it because then it's like nobody cares about the finalist basically. For me, it's just little bit third time to be finalist and not winning a Grand Slam, it will be like really disappointment - huge one. So for me, that win was just a kind of a relief.
Q. Having beaten Roger Federer, adding a second Grand Slam, is getting to No. 1 for a sustained period of time a particular goal, or you just take it as it comes?
MARAT SAFIN: I take it as it comes. I mean, like you cannot expect -- you cannot have a lot of expectations. Still long way to go. Of course, it's a huge win. Just for yourself, for your ego, for your career, for your portfolio, to win Australian Open, it's huge thing. But still, you know, you cannot just think that you can -- you might be finishing the year No. 1. Just one of the stages that you are getting a little bit closer, and you are working. Basically you are getting there. But still long way to go. You cannot just -- you have to take it really easy, keep on working, keep on doing the right things, and listen to the coach, I mean, and just keep on working. It's still long way to go until the end of the season where you can see who gonna be No. 1, who gonna be No. 2 and so on.
Q. What has your coach brought to your game?
MARAT SAFIN: Just really to believe in yourself. I never believe in myself before at all, until I start to work with him. Took us little bit longer time than usually people need to come up with results. But it went right, went in the right way. We worked really hard. We communicate really well. He understood who I am and I understood what he wants from me. It like took us basically four or five months before the results came. But then once the results came, they are there. They are continuing to come. You just -- he makes me believe that I can be a good player and I don't have so much doubts about myself, about my tennis. Of course, we're not talking about this match today particularly, because it's I guess completely different story. It's a final of a Grand Slam, you know. Just like I said before, it's little bit different story. But I think it's just in other matches I am a little bit more calm and more confident in a way.
Q. How come you didn't believe in yourself when you had the results you had?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, but it just -- it's a little bit difficult because once you have bad losses, like when people start to think you're not -- it's a public opinion, basically. Because the people that speak, they speak, you listen. The rumors, once it gets into your head, it's difficult to accept and you really start to believe that maybe it's who I am, you know. I have a talent, I'm a good player, but not good enough to be where I want to be. You can just lose to anybody, you can beat anybody, but that's it. They say that's who you are, and it's the maximum you can get. Just it's little bit disappointing, you know, for the person like me to hear that and really to believe in that because I really start to believe that, you know, like that's it, that's just who I am.
Q. How about believing in Wimbledon?
MARAT SAFIN: That's a different story. Wimbledon, is not my fav -- but, you see, the people, they interpret like what I said at Wimbledon, they took it to such extreme way. So basically all the headlines, like for one day I was so famous because I said something which is -- has nothing to do with the tournament, has nothing to do with anything around the tournament. Just I said my opinion that I don't like the surface, I cannot play on that surface, and I feel like I can't waste my time, my energy on that surface. That's it. It's my opinion. I didn't say anything wrong. I didn't say anything bad about the Wimbledon. But just, you know, like I am feeling that I can't -- is not my surface. For some people, they cannot play on clay. Some people, they cannot play on hard court. So me, I can't. It's more psychological, of course. But just even though that I had a good result one year, but I don't -- I don't feel comfortable on that surface. That's it.
Q. How important for you is to have Walt Landers on your team?
MARAT SAFIN: Uhm...
Q. He worked with great tennis players in the past?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, that I know already. I have to admit that the job he is doing, he's really good. He's an incredible masseuse, and I have to admit that, even though he is... You know what I mean (smiling), you know. But he's really good professional. He's a great, great hands. And he really can recover any person just in a matter of just day, hours, because he knows the body really well and he just -- he's good what he does, I have to admit.
Q. You played Lleyton 10 times before. Has he ever retrieved as well as he did tonight? He was running all over town to get balls.
MARAT SAFIN: He was there. He was there. He was running. But to be honest, I think he little bit run out of gas today. At the end, you know, he saw his opportunity, but then something went -- when I got the break in the third set, he just -- something happened inside of him that he didn't believe anymore that he can win that match, and he start to miss. I really felt that he's not as fast as he could be. Just he couldn't -- you feeling these things, you know. Like when you play against him, he's just everywhere. And today he was missing the extra step that normally he makes with the passing shots, with everything, anticipation, all these things, with the lobs, just everything, just an extra step. I could feel it. And then the fourth set, I think he just -- he couldn't -- he couldn't handle it, I think.
Q. When he double-faulted to end the third set, was that a beautiful sight?
MARAT SAFIN: Just I was praying for that (smiling). I was praying. I was praying because I really needed that point. I needed a present. I need a present, because otherwise, you know, like it's too much. It was such a relief for me. It was, yeah, just great present and right time.
Q. You talked about your nerves. Is that something that gets easier? The more Grand Slam finals that you play in, can you control it better and go on to win lots of Grand Slams? Or will you always become nervous, is that just part of you?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, I hope not. Hopefully I will get to the final and hopefully I will have the opportunity to be in the final and have a chance to win the final. But, of course, it's little bit, like I said, I already lost two of them here. For me, last time I won a Grand Slam was in 2000. People start to tell you that I will never win again. "He's a good player, but he's not a winner of Grand Slams because Federer is there, Roddick is there, Hewitt is all the time very close to the finals." Just like I said, it was such a relief. So hopefully it will help me a lot for next time. Even though I didn't play such great tennis like I played in 2000, today especially first set, but it really gave me the hope and to believe in the confidence. You know that even though if you are not playing really well in the final, it doesn't really matter. You can, just by fighting and taking your chances, you can win it.
Q. You talked about your self-doubts. Does this trophy mean more to you than the 2000 US Open four years ago?
MARAT SAFIN: I don't understand the question.
Q. Is this more special, this victory?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, yeah.
Q. Than the US Open because of your doubts?
MARAT SAFIN: No, 2000 came up just so -- I didn't expect that. It was against Sampras. Nobody really cared. I wasn't the favorite so I had no pressure whatsoever. Even though if I would make it, lose three sets, they would say, "Great tournament, well done. You know, you were great, you played great tennis, but he's Pete Sampras." So basically no pressure whatsoever. But now, right now, I am 25. I'm playing against Hewitt. I mean, at least you have to have the opportunity to win it, at least have a chance. It's like you go there and you lose first set 6-1, then, you know, like you start to think, "This is not my day. The way I'm playing is ridiculous. Just the people that came here to see that?" You start to really, you know, I like eating yourself. But then you start to really be a little bit more selfish and try to find a way out of there. And I found it. I was like really much -- I was much happier than in 2000, that's for sure, because I get over it.
Q. Will you give Wimbledon another go this year? Will you play Wimbledon this year?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, but not with so many expectations. Like every year I'm coming and I'm practicing, I'm spending so much time on the practice court and trying to play on that surface. But all of a sudden you come play the first round and lose to the guys that didn't even -- don't know how even get to the main draw (smiling).
Q. It's been such a long time between titles for you, major titles. Was there a time when you sort of thought, "Maybe I'm never going to win another major again"?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah.
Q. When was that?
MARAT SAFIN: From the first final that I didn't win against Johansson, the first final. And then I couldn't see myself winning the Grand Slams anymore. Just I couldn't, I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe -- I didn't believe. And just I was -- actually, I (inaudible) myself I'm good enough what I am, but definitely not for winning Grand Slams. I was once even in semifinals of French Open, but even though that I didn't believe I can win it. I lost to two semifinals because I just couldn't handle the pressure. You need to believe in yourself, and I didn't.
Q. How much more meaning does this title have because you beat Roger as well en route to the title?
MARAT SAFIN: It's a huge confidence. You get a huge confidence because, I mean, Roger, when was last time he lost a match? I don't think he really even lose a match in the practice. So for me it's like was -- I was very close in Houston. I was really close. I felt it like I was really close. If I would win the second set, I would have a chance to beat him. Then I saw opportunity here. Why not? I mean, he's a great player, but at least you should have a chance. You should take your chances, because, you know, I felt like I can compete with him. I really felt. Also I had no pressure basically because he's No. 1 in the world, he's the favorite, he gonna win the title if he gonna beat me. He gonna win it. So once you beat him, and then you beat Lleyton, so it's like you get so much confidence in yourself that you really can play great, you can win big titles and you can beat huge players in the finals and semifinals.
Q. Yesterday you were wondering what was going into your head as far as partying goes. What has entered your head tonight? What's on the agenda?
MARAT SAFIN: You guys, I don't know what time is it right now (smiling). I still have to do a lot of TVs, so basically I need to get home a little bit and stay with close friends and try to, you know, calm down and have some drinks and to just take it easy.
MARAT SAFIN: I'm starting to be old already for this (laughing).
Q. You have many messages of congratulations yet?
MARAT SAFIN: No, I didn't open the phone, not yet.
Q. What's the plan for the next few days?
MARAT SAFIN: I have to fly to Moscow, because I spend already one month here. It's enough. It's a great place, but I'm missing my home. I'm flying tomorrow.
Q. You go back tomorrow?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, yeah.
Q. Now that you believe in yourself, what do you want to achieve in the future?
MARAT SAFIN: Whatever comes. But it was such -- you cannot -- I mean, today it was a relief for me. Two Grand Slams, it's already something. One Grand Slam, you can win by mistake, you know, like I did in 2000 (smiling). It was a mistake, actually. But this one, I worked really hard for that. It was more working Grand Slam. It was a relief, so basically I would love to -- yeah, I would love to win a couple of more. I think I have a chance if I am continuing this way. If Peter, he will stick around with me and he will want to work with me for a bit longer, I think I can make it. Then of course I cannot just say that I am fighting for No. 1. Of course, if I have the opportunity to become No. 1 in the world, I would love to achieve it, but I already was. But, you know, I would love to. Of course I would love to feel the same feeling that I had before, to remember it. But I want concentrate a little bit more on the Grand Slams, I think.
Q. Is this surface your best chance out of the four?
MARAT SAFIN: I really find -- this really suits my game because the bounce is really high. Is not really fast. Just, yeah.
Q. You were talking a lot to the umpire, and then there was this warning that seemed to change the third set. Do you feel that he was put off by the warning?
MARAT SAFIN: Lleyton?
MARAT SAFIN: No. Just like -- that just happens. But I didn't really argue with him. I just was talking like, you know, just talking. I know him since long time, this umpire. And, I mean, double-fault, it was like it was -- it came out of nowhere. And I understand why Lleyton was pissed with the linesman. With all the respect to the linesman that are in Australia, you don't call foot-fault on first serve on an ace. But thanks to him, I had a chance like to break Lleyton. Lleyton, he got the warning. But just I don't think it was nothing really special things, you know, to make a sense and just turn around completely the game.
Q. You seem to play better when you get the aggression out and throw your racquet down. It seems to be a pattern that your game turns when you show that side of your emotions.
MARAT SAFIN: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Q. Can you explain a little bit about that?
MARAT SAFIN: No, because you cannot -- you cannot keep it all the time. Sometimes you feeling like it's really eating inside of you, something, and you have to let it go because you cannot handle the pressure. Like today, I could not handle the pressure. I was just swelling, swelling until just I snapped because I couldn't take it anymore because it was enough. You know, and then it was a relief. I could at least play, play tennis, because before, what I was doing, I couldn't call it tennis. And sometimes it helps, but sometimes of course it can be dangerous for your game.
Q. Seems to help more often than not?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, yeah, but sometimes it doesn't.
Q. Like when you crush in the semifinal against Federer?
MARAT SAFIN: I don't understand why all the people, they thought that was like really bother me, because the ball bounced really far away from the back. The moment I was hitting the ball, the back was falling so I couldn't concentrate on the ball. That's just why really it piss me off. And the people, they really -- I guess they believe that this bug should live forever, but it's just kind of a bug that lives only one night.
Q. Other people would boo, but because you did it, people were laughing. Do you have any explanation for that?
MARAT SAFIN: Good sense of humor (smiling).
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.