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January 16, 2005

Marat Safin


THE MODERATOR: First question in English.

Q. You made the final here last year. Does it seem so long ago, or can you still take some confidence from how you played here last year?

MARAT SAFIN: No, but it has nothing to do with what I did last year, because it's already history. So it's a new season, new beginning. So I try to do as best as you can even though would be great to be in the final again. And it's a long way to get there, but I will try to do it. Hopefully I can -- I would love to repeat it, even do better.

Q. Can you draw any comparison between how you feel this time as you did last year, both physically and in your form?

MARAT SAFIN: Well, just it's a completely different situation right now because last year it was the time that nobody expect from me anything. My ranking dropped for the reason that I was injured, had nothing to lose. Basically I was starting from zero. And now I'm back in top five. And for me it's just -- it's a different stage. I would like to move on, climb up a little bit higher in the rankings. So I have a little bit more experience, you know, I've been playing for a long time, you know, like for a year without getting injured, feeling comfortable, confident. And just hopefully I will be able to maintain my form the way I finished the last year, and it will be completely different story because now it's not any more that some people, they expect from me something, and also I expect from myself, you know, maintain myself in the top five.

Q. Last year you spent an enormous amount of time on court here leading up into the final. Was there a lesson out of that in terms of how you felt when you got to the final in terms of the need to maybe get through your early matches a bit quicker and not expend so much energy out there?

MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, but last year I couldn't -- just for me I was even surprised I got into the finals, no matter how I got there. Because, you know, when you aren't playing matches at all, I've been injured, I don't know, for eight months basically, I didn't have any matches on my back. And just to be able to win matches and win matches fast, you have to have some kind of, you know, like match experience. So that's what I'm saying, last year I played a lot of matches, and now I know how to -- like I'm already used to play long matches, I know what to do on the court, how to do. Last year just finished one month ago. So basically a completely different story. I know that I have to -- if I want to maintain myself, to give myself a chance to win the tournament or just get a little bit closer to the final, I will have to just make it my first rounds as fast as I can. But we'll have to see. Other players, they want to win also. The guy I'm playing in the first round, he has nothing to lose, so he'll be fighting. I don't know with what he going to come up. So every match is difficult. But, of course, if you want to do well, you have to keep it short.

Q. What do you know about your first opponent?

MARAT SAFIN: He's a young guy, upcoming. You know, he been -- he had a very good results last year in the challengers. He's going to be a good player. He sign already a few contracts, so that means that the people, they're looking forward and he going to be in the future Top 10. So he going to come up with the great shots, great tennis, nothing to lose, and he going to go for it. So that's why, is going to be a huge crowd, so I don't think it will even help him. He's a big player, young, he'll be inspired by that. So it's going to be a tough one. But I also know that the first rounds are always tough, and if you can manage to pass through them first rounds, then life will be a little bit easier because you already get the confidence, you just feel good on the court.

Q. Have you seen him play?

MARAT SAFIN: I warm up with him once, but I never saw him in a match.

Q. Everybody is talking about Roger and Lleyton, are they going to play in the final. Do you like the fact there's not that much attention on you at the moment?

MARAT SAFIN: I have no problem with that. You know, like time will show who going to be in the final. That's why I don't have any pressure. I have a pressure for myself that I want to do well, but it's a different kind of pressure when the people are talking all around, you know. During the last two weeks, there have been two weeks of tournaments, and they both won a tournament, and they're playing great tennis. And, of course, the people, they expect them to do well. But also for them, you know, no matter how great you are, there is long way to go to the final. We'll see. Also, the people, they are putting them under pressure because everybody expecting from them to be in the final. It's great. Even better for me.

Q. How have you been feeling here?

MARAT SAFIN: Great. I love the city. I'm practicing, working hard, preparing myself slowly, without taking -- you know, taking life easy.

Q. The decision to practice at the courts here rather than playing one of the other tournaments.

MARAT SAFIN: I prefer to practice. I've been doing this for the past three years, and I like the idea to take this week off, you know, to prepare yourself, practice here in the facilities of Rod Laver and outside courts, you know, get used to it, because a little bit different courts than other places. It will be better. You know, it's a great week to practice, not to play a tournament, in my opinion. Some other people, they're thinking other way around, but that's how I feel.

Q. There's a lot of concentration on the Russian women players coming into this tournament. Do you have any theory on why there's so many good Russian women players as opposed to the men?

MARAT SAFIN: Yeah. It's surprising that they are doing so well, in a way. But also, you know, it's great for Russia, great for the girls, because they are very competitive with each other. The first person who opened the road was Anna Kournikova. We have to give her credit. You know, she brought the competition to Russia and everybody start to follow her from the girls. And with the guys, a little bit different story because the competition is a little bit tougher. To get in top hundred, you need to go through hell, you know, challengers, futures, satellites. It's a long way, and not many people they can make it, even though there is a lot of talented players. But you have to be really committed to yourself and committed to the job. Not many kids -- not many guys, they want to do that. They are looking for the easier way and for easier life, which is -- it's wrong, I think, because they should give themself a chance and try to go for it because they have a lot of plenty -- I can see a lot of plenty talented players, they just stop in the middle because they see that it's too hard, and that's sad. And the girls, they have the competition, so they competing against each other. One wants to be better than Kuznetsova, Kuznetsova wants better to be than Myskina. It's all the time this way, they competing against...

Q. Is it because a lot of guys are going to the States, to University?

MARAT SAFIN: Well, it's easy -- exactly. It's an easier way. I also had the opportunity to go into the college. But, you know, I decided to continue what I'm doing, trying to try myself in the professional tennis. It was the right decision because that's how they explain themselves, it's just education. For some people education is very important. Depends how the parents they look at it. But I think if you have the opportunity, you have the skills, have the tennis, you have the talent, you want to get there where you want to be, which is to be in the top hundred, I think it's a major goal for every tennis player who wants to be big, then you should do it, you should try it, you should give yourself a chance because you can always catch up with the studies and all these things. You can manage. I know some players, that they made it even to lawyers, being a players. Andrea Gaudenzi, for example, he's a lawyer right now, and he's doing well. Everybody, they don't understand that you can do that. Of course, it's hard work. I'm sorry, but you are young. Why not? Why not to give yourself a chance?

Q. Is there a difference mentally from Russian guys and Russian girls?

MARAT SAFIN: Exactly. Women and men.

Q. Women and?

MARAT SAFIN: Women and men.

Q. But besides that, Russian guys think they are not as competitive as female Russian players?

MARAT SAFIN: It doesn't really matter. It has nothing to do with the Russian. It just has to do with everything. Just men are different a little bit looking on the life than does the women. And also we have to understand that, like I said, we have not such a great competition in Russia between guys because they choose the easy life and they prefer to, you know, like to have fun and to enjoy the life because they say to themselves, we are young, we should live a life, or they go to college, or maybe they try a little bit to play satellites and futures, they see it's very tough and they give up. And women, they have no -- they're going this way because a little bit it's less difficult - without taking any credit from the women, of course.

End of FastScripts….

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