January 21, 2005
THE MODERATOR: First question, please.
Q. Did you have a problem with your ankle?
MARAT SAFIN: No, no, it's okay. I was all right.
Q. Did it all go according to plan before the match? Was it easier than you expected or maybe...?
MARAT SAFIN: No, I expect from him that he gonna play this kind of tennis. It's very, very difficult to find the game and to have a tactic against these kind of players. You just have to hang in there and wait for your opportunities and just take them whenever they come. Because he's the kind of player that he's quite complete, you know, and his goal is to get there, you know, to play a little bit, to be able to play from the baseline, good volleys and good serve. So you just keep on waiting.
Q. Did you feel as sharp as you did in your first two matches when you won pretty easily?
MARAT SAFIN: It's a little bit different kind of matches because I didn't play against these kind of players with the big serve and going for the shots. So it was a little bit more difficult than the previous matches. Because he was there, and he felt that he has a chance to win. So that's why I have to be a little bit careful and he had a chance in the third set to break me. He's a tough player.
Q. Can you take us through exactly what happened? Did you trip or stumble? What happened at the end of that third game? Did you twist your...?
MARAT SAFIN: Which game?
Q. When you fell over.
MARAT SAFIN: Oh, just I have a lot of problems with this ankle. I had like many -- happens many times before. So it was one more time, and already I have to take care of it properly because I've been taping it for the last two years and sometimes it really helps but it doesn't really, you know -- I don't feel really comfortable moving to the right side. I need to work on that.
Q. Did you ask the trainer to come out as a precaution, or did you actually feel fine?
MARAT SAFIN: No, because I wanted to be a little bit more safer, so to tape it a little bit more and give me some pills, painkillers, because at the moment it was really painful.
Q. Did it bother you after that?
MARAT SAFIN: No, not really. But just it give me little bit of -- took all the pressure a little bit from me in the match because I was a little bit uptight. But when it happened, when I twist my ankle, just kind of stop a little bit thinking about the way I'm playing. And I played quite good game afterwards.
Q. So the next couple of days, when you wake up tomorrow, will it be swollen?
MARAT SAFIN: It wasn't so badly because I've been taped. If I will play without tape, it will be much worse. But it was good that I'm taping it. But it will be okay.
Q. So ankles notwithstanding, how do you sense you're feeling now compared to if you think back this time last year when you got through that first week and you hadn't played a lot of tennis beforehand, what's the difference in your game and the way you are he feeling out there?
MARAT SAFIN: I'm much more comfortable right now than I was last year because I had a lot of tough matches in the first week. This week is a little bit easier. I'm little bit -- I'm playing a little bit smarter, and I'm just trying to save my time on the court and try to be focused from the first point and try to keep it short. Whenever I have the opportunity, just go, just keep it, and just keep it as short as I can because it's a long tournament and there is no need to waste the energy on something that you don't have to.
Q. Because you're feeling good, do you find yourself looking ahead and seeing how Roger is going?
MARAT SAFIN: It's a little bit still too far. I mean, of course in back of your mind you're still thinking little bit further than the third round or fourth round. But still, is lot of great players like Ancic in the third round. It's a tough opponent and you have to win this type of match. Also know that the next match is going to be even tougher because I'm going to play against Rochus, and he's tough opponent. Also a little bit I cannot think too far ahead, but still I'm considering what other players are doing. Just, you know, it's interesting.
Q. How do you keep yourself from putting too much pressure on yourself to do as well as you did last year? You're sometimes hard on yourself.
MARAT SAFIN: Not anymore. Not anymore. I have nothing to -- basically, I have to be little bit more selfish. I'm going there, I'm try to give all my best. If it doesn't go my way, then there's nothing I can do about it. You cannot be hard on yourself. It's already enough to play against the opponent that he is trying to beat you. And also if you go under circumstances that they are losing it, so you can't be hard on yourself. Just try to be positive. If it doesn't go your way, so what are you going to do? Can't fight it.
Q. Is getting smarter a matter of naturally maturing; you can feel yourself getting smarter?
MARAT SAFIN: I'm getting older. I'm getting older. Soon I am going to be a quarter of a century in this world. That's a big number (smiling).
No, but gonna be my seventh year. At least I have to learn something. Years and years, and after years you learn something here.
Q. You are much more calm and collected than you used to be. It seems crowds prefer seeing you get angry. They yell, "Get angry!" Something like that (laughter). Perhaps you should smash a ceremonial racquet after each match to make people happy.
MARAT SAFIN: Okay, I will (laughter). It will come soon. If you're asking me for it, I will do it (laughter). But I'm saving myself. I'm trying to save myself as long as I can, try to keep myself calm on the court also because against these kind of players, like Ancic, you go crazy and you might never come back because he's already be on the tour, he knows how to play and he's a tough opponent. He will feel straightaway the time a little bit I'm not there, so he will take his opportunity and he will just -- he can win this match. So basically I'm trying and I'm saving my energy, my power, try to stay calm and think properly what I have to do to beat him.
Q. Are you a superstitious guy? Do you go to the same restaurants before you play, same shower?
MARAT SAFIN: No.
Q. No, never?
MARAT SAFIN: No.
Q. Did you used to?
MARAT SAFIN: Not really.
Q. Is it difficult always to have almost like justify to yourself like people are judging you on your previous behavior? Is it kind of hard to go back, because obviously you moved a little bit forward it seems?
MARAT SAFIN: It's little bit -- but it's my past. Just it was me. It's difficult, of course. If you will not behave that way back then, I will not be here. So for some reason, everything what happened to me before, I consider it should to be this way -- it should be this way. That's who I am. It's little bit difficult, you know, to take -- if somebody's judging you and saying if it's not correct, it's not right, you should do like this and you should behave this way, of course you have to improve in a better way. But also you have to pass through this stage. I think just I passed it and I'm much calmer. And to get to this point where I am right now, a little bit calmer than I used to be before, is because I had enough a little bit. I also see myself and I also speak to the people and that's why I have a coach. So he's little bit trying to show me the way, the shortcut. I don't have to run around to get to the same point.
Q. Would you like to draw a line on the past?
MARAT SAFIN: It's okay. It's my past. I have to live with that. It wasn't so bad (smile).
Q. More fun the other way?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, I consider that I have nothing -- I don't regret anything what I did before, nothing, zero, because it had to happen to be here. If it would be different way, I might not be here at all.
Q. Did you spend time in Moscow over the break? I know you went from Houston to Caribbean. Did you go home?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah. Not for long, though. For one day.
Q. Do you just sense a mood that from the tennis-following people in Moscow that maybe the girls are now bigger in the national perception than the guys are?
MARAT SAFIN: They are. But it doesn't make any wakeup call to the guys, you know, to the Juniors. Doesn't get there. They don't get it. We don't have any -- it's just sad to see that way, you know, the girls are little bit -- which is I am happy for them, they are doing so well. But also it should be a wakeup call for the guys, for the upcoming guys, to see what's going on. They have to at least try to give themselves a chance, but they don't do it. They choose the easier way, you know, like easy life for some reason, I don't know why.
Q. When you say "the girls," is it all the girls? What is the perception of Sharapova in Moscow?
MARAT SAFIN: She's not -- I don't know. But in my opinion - it's my opinion, I don't know - but she doesn't spend much time there so it's little bit difficult to judge a person who doesn't really -- Russian people doesn't really know her back there in Russia. So is little bit -- for example, Myskina, Dementieva, they spend much more time there, so the people get to know them so at least they can give an opinion about them. But about Sharapova, nobody sees. She lives in the States, as I'm concerned.
Q. Are you maybe suggesting she's not as Russian as the other girls?
MARAT SAFIN: I am not saying anything (laughter). That's a good one, but, no, sorry (smiling).
Q. I mean, you left the country pretty much when you were about 14. Kuznetsova did as well. You're not there full-time.
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, but I'm spending enough time there. I had to go outside of Russia, but I came back. So it's not like I left the country, I never came back. I consider myself Russian. Of course, I spending most of my basically youth, second part of my youth, in Spain. But I'm still -- I'm back there because for some reason I wanted to come back always because I felt really that's my home.
Q. Did your sister react after what you said?
MARAT SAFIN: I didn't speak to her yet. It's okay. Women are very delicate people so (laughter)... It takes a little bit of time, you know, for them to calm down and really to think properly because they go with emotions, but then they use the head.
Q. Is your mum here?
MARAT SAFIN: No, she's not. Two women is too much for me (laughter).
Q. How do you feel about playing Olivier Rochus next?
MARAT SAFIN: Tough one. I really admire him. I know him since long time, since 14. And the way he plays, he is such a talented, it's really nice to watch. He's a difficult opponent. I lost to him one time. He had some great results. He beat Moya in the US Open. He can play great tennis. He beat here Kiefer in the first round. He made it to the fourth round. So he must be playing well. He's really tough to beat. Even that he is not really, as everybody would say, he's not so tall but he's very dangerous. He's really dangerous and he has the all talent in the world.
Q. Because he's not so tall, does that make him more dangerous?
MARAT SAFIN: You ask me the same question, you know that. Come on.
Q. Does it make him more dangerous, the fact that he isn't tall, he has other weapons, no?
MARAT SAFIN: Of course. Of course. He moves incredibly well on the court. He has anticipation. He has a great eye, great hands. So basically he's very good.
Q. What's the most memorable match you played against him?
MARAT SAFIN: It's difficult. I never enjoy to play against him, actually. Monte-Carlo last year I think was a great match. He wasn't playing well before, he was struggling for a couple of weeks because we been talking before, right before Monte-Carlo, with him just about he complain he didn't win a match in five weeks. And we had to play the first round of Monte-Carlo. Three sets, tough sets.
Q. Is there any chance that you will be like Agassi, like from 20 to 25 it's up and down, unpredictable...
MARAT SAFIN: I pray for this. I really pray for this (laughter). I really, I really hope so. Thank you (laughter).
Q. Do you think maybe at 29 all of a sudden you'll become serious, like a machine like Agassi?
MARAT SAFIN: Not too serious. Come on. Life you cannot take too serious. It's just a sport, at the end of the day. It's just a sport that we love to be here and to enjoy it. It's just a sport.
Q. You think you'll be playing at 34?
MARAT SAFIN: I don't know what's gonna happen tomorrow. You asking me if I'm gonna play until 34 (laughter).
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.