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January 19, 2004

Marat Safin


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. How did the first match go for you today? How did you feel?

MARAT SAFIN: It was good. I mean, for first match, win in four sets, it was okay for a long time off, being outside the court. It's the first Grand Slam since last year in the Australian Open. It was quite okay. I mean, the first match is always tough.

Q. How do you feel physically for this tournament?

MARAT SAFIN: I mean, it's difficult to like make some conclusions about my fitness, about my physical conditions. It's just the first match. I will see how it's going in the future. A couple of matches more I hope I can play here, then I can see how physically I'm playing and what should I work on during this year.

Q. How about mentally, how confident are you?

MARAT SAFIN: I mean, I played -- since the beginning of the year I played four matches; I won three and I lost one. So basically, I'm pretty calm. I mean, it's going quite well but sometimes you get frustrated because you think you can finish in three sets and then you're losing the second set and basically the guy was taking me over in the third set. But, I mean, it's still okay because I was still there in the match. I was playing my game, trying to do everything as possible, even in the tough situations. I think I'm not too bad for the beginning. Not too bad.

Q. What are your expectations for the Australian Open? What do you feel like you can do here?

MARAT SAFIN: I mean, I didn't come here for just make a couple of rounds and just being satisfied of being in the fourth round or in the second round or whatever I will do here. If I'm coming here, I will try to do all my best. I will try to win it, why not? I mean, I had a lot of months off off the court, but still I want to play and I have motivation. I want to do well. For me, it's like a big opportunity, an opportunity to do well during this year, all the year, if I don't get injured.

Q. How frustrating was last year for you?

MARAT SAFIN: Quite frustrating, but was really good. I had some time off. It makes you think like a lot of -- you can think what are your needs, what you should do, and you see tennis outside of the court. You have completely different view. You can just -- you can get a lot of good advices for yourself, I mean, being outside. I had a really good time off. That's why I'm pretty - how you say - I want to be back and I want to finish the year No. 1.

Q. You have the hunger again?

MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, it's very important. When you're playing all the time, you have no time off, it's difficult to adjust to the side and see what you're doing on the court and outside. But you have time off, it's completely different story. You can see from both sides.

Q. You said you want to finish the year No. 1. What do you think you have to do to be No. 1?

MARAT SAFIN: Being consistent. There is no special formula for that. I mean, as you can see, you have to play well during all this big tournaments and try to make a smart schedule for yourself, try to work hard and not to lose, like, your matches, the matches that you have to win, and not giving any presents. Because, I mean, there's a lot of guys competing and a lot of guys in a great shape and they will be in great shape during all the year. Who will be more consistent and who will be mentally tougher, then you're gonna end up in No. 1. But, still, there is opportunity for everybody. I'm one of them. Why not? I have to give it a try.

Q. Do you think the Federers and Roddicks are afraid that all of a sudden you're back?

MARAT SAFIN: Hey, you have to ask them. I hope they are afraid (smiling). No, it's too soon, I mean, to decide and see who is scared of who and who respects more and what they think about me. But, I mean, with the time you will see, by the middle of the season. It will be like ups and downs, and more or less the picture will be more clear for like in the middle of the summer, especially this year, I mean, we have very tough schedule. So the players that are going back and forth to Europe and back, I mean, Olympics. Also the schedule is very important, not to play too many tournaments and just be fresh for the US Open and for the big tournaments.

Q. Have any players made jokes to you about, "Oh, you're back"?

MARAT SAFIN: No, not yet. Not yet (smiling).

Q. You have some good memories about your final down here a few years ago?

MARAT SAFIN: Good memories?

Q. Uh-hmm?

MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, could be.

Q. Or bad memories?

MARAT SAFIN: No, no, no. Always good. Come on. It's not like every day you're in a final of a Grand Slam. Let's be positive. It was good, but already was two years ago. Long time away. I hope to repeat it and do better.

Q. Did you learn anything out of that experience?

MARAT SAFIN: Always, you always learn. You always learn on your mistakes.

Q. What kind of preparation did you have before you came here?

MARAT SAFIN: Just work, very important to work hard and physically because I've been out for so many months off. And when you're not playing, you lose the movements on the court, you lose everything. Basically all the footwork, all the conditions, you have to start from the beginning all over again, go to the basics and try to go step by step, I mean like all the preparation from there, from zero. It's kind of tough, you know, to again push yourself and get the motivation back. But, finally, you get it and you don't want to let it go. That's why just you have to be focused. I've been one months and a half doing hard work, and I hope I'll be paid somehow for this job that I did in running all over the mountains and just pump some weights and all these things.

Q. Which mountains?

MARAT SAFIN: December.

Q. Which mountains?

MARAT SAFIN: In Monaco (smiling). Is not the place to practice?

Q. You've got Jarkko next. What do you think of his game? How do you approach that?

MARAT SAFIN: He had a great win today against Massu. Great player, lefty, very talented, very fast game for the hard courts. He beat -- I think last year he beat Kafelnikov here. I played against him a couple of times, and last time I beat him in Barcelona, was just April last year. So his game probably improved. But we'll see how it's going. But he's really, really difficult opponent.

Q. About Kafelnikov, do you have news of him? Do you think he's going to come back on the tour?

MARAT SAFIN: No, quit. Guys, he quit. You will not see him anymore.

Q. Really?

MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, finished.

Q. He didn't announce it officially?

MARAT SAFIN: That's okay. He's Kafelnikov. He doesn't have to announce it.

Q. (Inaudible)?


Q. Sorry?

MARAT SAFIN: 105 kilos. It's a lot of kilos, huh?

End of FastScripts….

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