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January 23, 2004

Marat Safin


THE MODERATOR: First question.

Q. You said in Perth that part of your new resolve was to keep trying and not give up like you might have done in the past. Is this a match the old Marat would have lost?

MARAT SAFIN: No, I think I would have -- why you want to talk about old Marat?

Q. Tell us about the new Marat.

MARAT SAFIN: But it's another opportunity because there are opportunities everywhere and you have a chance even when you are losing. For example, like today, I lost two sets in a row and then he was playing really good tennis. I couldn't find myself. I was a little bit lost. I won 6-love. Even in the fifth set he was really serving well. I took my chances. That's important to wait and then to fight and get your chances. If you are able to take them, that's good. But they can be good days or bad days.

Q. What were you saying to yourself at the end of that third set? You looked pretty disappointed with yourself at stages.

MARAT SAFIN: I little bit lost my game. I was little bit frustrated because I couldn't read his serve. I was a little bit upset with that because, basically, I had no chances to break him. I couldn't find the way. I was looking for the way for so many games, and I couldn't, I couldn't. And then I start to get frustrated. But even then, when I lost the third set, fourth set I tried. I tried and I tried and I took my chances. That's what counts, basically.

Q. Does a performance like this help to persuade you the new Marat is the way to do it?

MARAT SAFIN: Yes, it's really good win for me. I really think for many guys would be a really good win. This kind of matches brings your confidence and it brings you, you know, to show you that you have to stay in the match till the end. Because even when you are losing and you are losing quite easily, you have some chances back.

Q. You played a pretty high level, too, at the end of the fifth set. That must have made you play at that level after all that time in such a pressure situation, must make you feel good?

MARAT SAFIN: Thank you. I was trying. I was try because against these kind of players, he has a lot of experience, he knows how to play, he knows how to play big matches and he knows how to play big players. He's been on the tour for many years. He also has a really difficult game, because he's serving, he is going to the net, like chip and charge. All the time he is trying to move to the net. He's also a big guy, so it's difficult to make him a passing shot. He has really good hands. Sometimes from the baseline he's putting you pressure. You never know, if you leave any balls easy, he'll go to the net. So basically was really, really difficult to keep my serve in the fifth set. Because it's -- any small mistake could change completely the match. He will take his chance and just play a couple of good shots from the baseline and match will be over. But luck was on my side, and also I played quite -- I tried. I was trying, you know, so it worked.

Q. You said it's hard to come back physically after so long away. Is a long match like that good for you for the hours on court, or is it...?

MARAT SAFIN: No, it's really good. It's just the beginning of the year. I'm not really tired. But these kind of matches brings you back - how you say - the footwork. How you say, you make a lot of kilometers on the court. Legs are getting back in shape like they used to be. It's -- no matter what you doing off the court, the exercises, you need also to do the exercises on the court, the footwork, you know, small steps. These kind of matches also helps to build a little bit the muscles and to make the legs a little bit stronger.

Q. In your slide in the rankings, where do you suppose your low point was in your feelings?


Q. The low point, when you were going down in the rankings...?

MARAT SAFIN: It's okay. But the game is still there. If you still have a game... I could have used the protected ranking, actually. But I don't need it. The game was there. I'm not scared about the numbers; I'm scared about my game. I was scared little bit to come back on the tour and not be able to win matches because you lose the confidence, you didn't play for a long time, now you cannot find your game. Other players, their tennis is improving with the matches, with the months, because everybody's keep on playing the tournaments. I was kind of afraid that I would not be able to read the game, just to see where it would be a little bit faster than it used to be before. But once you in the tour, once you start to play tennis again, once you start to make long matches, then it's just -- it's coming back, the feelings.

Q. Looked right from the start you were as determined to get to the net as much as you could, as well.


Q. More than you used to?

MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, but I'm trying. I'm trying to do something else. The baseline sometimes is not enough. You have to bring up something, something new to the game. So like this I can have a fast points, also. It's really important to change a little bit the pace of the game. Once you stay on the baseline, once you go to the net so the opponent has to think a little bit more on the return, he has more pressure. Any short ball that he will give me, that I will go to the net. Okay, maybe it will not work out now, my volley, but with time I hope it will get better also. It will be a little bit also easier for me to play long matches so I don't have to run all the time on the baseline and try to suffer and just struggle all the time.

Q. You obviously want to get back to the point where you're a major threat in every tournament. How far do you think you've got so far?

MARAT SAFIN: It's quite impressive, actually. For myself, I didn't expect that I will just -- I will win so many matches straightaway. I went through two matches in Perth, lost one match to Blake where I should win, and won here three matches against quite good players, against Nieminen, Vahaly, against Todd Martin. So for me, it's really good. I'm really satisfied on myself. It could be worse. It would be really worse. Like I said, it's difficult to come back. It's difficult for motivation. The eyes are not the same, the shape, the feelings, all these things.

Q. At the start of the week you were asked whether the other players should be worried that you're back. Should they be worried now?

MARAT SAFIN: I mean, I think they are not really worried but they keep in mind that I am still there, so, which is a good thing.

End of FastScripts….

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