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August 30, 2002

Marat Safin


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Are you surprised at how much he dominated you today?

MARAT SAFIN: He played -- I think he played one of his best matches. He came back. He was playing fast, he serve well. He was much better today than me, definitely.

Q. He gave you what, two breakpoint opportunities today?

MARAT SAFIN: Yeah. I had small opportunity in second set. I had 15-30 and I missed backhand return by five, six centimeters. If I would make it, I think would be different match. And then he, of course, he got confident. He was playing great afterwards in the third set. He was just -- I had no chance to return his serve.

Q. If you didn't know he had had hip surgery, would you have known that he was coming back from an operation? He played that well today.

MARAT SAFIN: He played -- I mean, I think he's hungry. He wants to come back, he wants to win matches. Just only match he played well, because he had the opportunity to play in Toronto and he lost in the first round to Pavel. Of course, today he played well. But let's see if he can play this way during all the two weeks, you know? You can make a good match, but then you have to -- let's see how consistent he will be.

Q. Do you think part of what happened today was you were a bit surprised he could play that well? He hasn't played, nobody's heard about him.

MARAT SAFIN: Also withdraw from Indianapolis. I still have some problem with my rib. I cannot move fast to the forehand. For example, on the return, I cannot move fast to the sides because I have little bit of pain in the right rib. It's bothering me all the time. But I don't think is the case. But just, you know, the guy, he played well today. He was inspired. He was everything. Even with a frame, everything was inside the court. Even the last game he broke me, it was like the return from the backhand was amazing. He hit with the frame, it was like perfect. What you can do about it? You cannot do nothing about it. Just I played my match, I tried. Just wasn't my day.

Q. What exactly is the rib?

MARAT SAFIN: They told me that I have a crack there, yeah.

Q. A crack in the bone?


Q. Not good.

MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, I know that (smiling). It hurts (smiling). But I try to play because it was okay for the moment. I didn't play for a week. Then, against Kiefer I had to -- I start to have pain a little bit. Then I hit the other day, the next day straightaway. I had a pain. I thought to make it little bit tough injections, like painkillers. But then I thought that maybe it's like, you know, maybe I can survive like this, you know? I should have done. I should have done.

Q. What was your reaction when you saw the draw and saw Kiefer, former Top 10er in the first round, now here?

MARAT SAFIN: It's the draw. You cannot complain. It's the draw that, you know, of this year and maybe next year it will be easier or more difficult. But just you have to beat all these guys to get into the -- if you want to win this tournament, you need to beat the good guys. You not be able to beat them, is not your year, is not your tournament. So is like -- so, it wasn't my year.

Q. When you're having the conversations with yourself on the court, are you being critical of yourself or are you trying to get yourself more psyched up?

MARAT SAFIN: What you can say to yourself? Is just, you know, all the good things and all the bad things you can say. Just, you know, try to react, try to maybe to help, but it didn't help today. It was so clean. It was 4, 4 and 5. He played great match. I didn't break him once. I don't think it's a great match for me, because normally I don't have such a bad return. Normally, I should have break him a few times. Even I had opportunities that sometimes I had to take, you know, I have to be more aggressive. But I was waiting for his mistakes, and that was a mistake.

Q. The way Guga is playing, how deep do you think he can get into the tournament?

MARAT SAFIN: Is difficult to say. The guy didn't play for a long time. I mean, he played great match today but you never know how, you know when I was injured, I also had few good matches. Then I lost the next day to somebody you never lose. So, it depends how confident he will get after this match, after today's match, how much confidence I give him. And see what he can do. I mean, everybody wants to win here. Everybody's like, is in good shape. So it will be tough draw, but he's playing really good now.

Q. When you first won the US Open and went up in the rankings, how did you deal with the extra pressure that kind of came along with all that, the expectations?

MARAT SAFIN: To be honest, is really difficult. Because every year you come here and every year you're playing Grand Slam. Doesn't matter if it's US Open. US Open, of course, is more special because I won here two years ago. But still, in big tournaments you have a lot of pressure because you want to win it or you want to make good result. But of course you coming to win. It's like really difficult. It's really difficult to, you know, to pass these difficult matches, for example, against Kuerten or Kiefer. It's really tough. Because if you are coming, you are young junior coming, you have nothing to be afraid of. You just trying and you just playing your tennis and just have fun, yes, of course it's easy. Nobody expect from you, anything. But when you are already Top 10, so everybody thinking that you should have done much better than you did, you know. But it just -- that's life. You have to learn these things. I hope it will be good lesson for me.

Q. You missed a couple of overhead smashes that you would normally put away easily. Did you feel like your timing was a little off today?

MARAT SAFIN: Well, you don't find the time in one lob, you find the timing in the way you serving, the way you moving, the way you hitting the ball from the baseline. You can miss a few smashes. Is not so difficult to miss them. Maybe because you're not, you know, like in the perfect position. Maybe you didn't -- I just -- I missed a few. You're not concentrate enough. Maybe you're not, you know, you don't see where the guy is, so you try to put the ball, you know, just closer to the lines. That's why you miss. I don't think it's the timing. Timing, you see the timing, if you comfortable or not, at the beginning of the match on the practice before the match. If you feeling great or not. But I was feeling okay. I was warm up okay. I played -- I don't think I played such a bad match. But just I could have done much better, that's for sure.

Q. Your kid sister had a tough night the other night in her match. Was there anything you were able to say to her to ease the pain?

MARAT SAFIN: Come on, she's 16 years old. When I was 16, I was playing satellites in Spain. I was staying in a hotel for $15 a night. I had breakfast like, I don't know, like normal kids. Every 16-year-old guy is just starting to play satellites, not even close. They're playing national tournaments, which is -- it's the lowest thing in the world. Yeah... And she's playing 16 years old, playing Serena, No. 1 in the world, center court and the people are watching. You play satellites, the people, they don't even watch. They have no lines men even.

Q. Did you tell her that?

MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, of course. She was pissed because of, I don't know, she could have done much better and all this. Of course, she's really ambitious, but, you know, you have to calm down. You have to come back to reality. She start the year, she's 400. Now she's Top 100. She's complaining. Is not normal.

Q. Last year you saw how Pete Sampras could get on a roll here. Do you think he has a chance to win this thing?

MARAT SAFIN: Everybody has a chance, especially Pete. Of course a lot of people, they are saying that maybe he should retire, he should retire. But I mean, Jim Courier, the other night, he said the right thing. If the guy, he wants to play, why you want him to leave? The guy is enjoying to play tennis. If he is thinking he gonna win another Grand Slam, so let him do it, no? Let him at least try. You don't have to -- it doesn't take so much. He has a chance, of course, if he will serve well and if he will be prepared mentally and, I mean, physically. I think he can do it. Why not?

Q. We're eight months into the season. After all this time, virtually every player out here has some sort of pain or minor injury of some kind. Every player deals with pain in a different way. Tommy Haas is out there with a bad shoulder, Tim Henman has a bad shoulder. How do you think, compared with other players, you deal with pain? Can you fight through pain as well as other players out there?

MARAT SAFIN: Pain is the worst thing. I mean, if you have just something is bothering you, some part of your body, is difficult to play because you all the time thinking about this muscle, this blister, about all this, you know, small things. It's, of course, you cannot just -- all the time you are thinking about, all the time, all the time, all the time. Of course, if you have a shoulder problem or foot problem or you have some muscle is bothering you, is, I mean, it's difficult to play. It's difficult to push yourself because you are forcing yourself, you are forcing all the body to, you know, to give another, you know, like pushing all the time. So, one day you just -- you have to take time out, you know? Of course you cannot take time out on the US Open, but just the week after, you have to rest. Your body need time to rest. You cannot run all the time. You cannot run 365 days a year. It's just not normal. Especially now that the tennis is getting faster and stronger, you need to be clever in the schedule, the way you, you know, the schedule is. Because you play two weeks, three weeks, then you need to take a rest. Because the body cannot anymore.

Q. You've played Guga a few times. How do you compare the way he served today compared to the other times?

MARAT SAFIN: He served well. I mean, he served very good.

Q. Better than before?

MARAT SAFIN: Much better. Much better. Of course, it's like more psychological. Because if you see the guy doesn't returning, in this case it was me, I didn't return, I didn't return. Of course, I had my chances, but I didn't have a lot of chances. He can see that I'm not returning, so he's getting more confident on the serve. Then in the third set he was serving well. Just in the mind.

Q. How did you hurt the rib?

MARAT SAFIN: Practicing in Indianapolis with Kratochvil. I start to make slice on my backhand, it was so painful.

Q. Left or right?


End of FastScripts….

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