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August 27, 2002

Marat Safin


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Marat, please.

Q. Have a good time?

MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, great. Couldn't be better.

Q. Let's go back to the tiebreaker, the end. Little bit like Grosjean a couple years ago - little bit, not too much. You're both down mini-breaks. You're down two mini-breaks to 3-2. What were you thinking then? Were you going to escape?

MARAT SAFIN: No, actually I thought it was the end, because I didn't play well at all. I couldn't serve because I just -- in the fifth set, I serve very, very badly. In the tiebreak, I was like -- I was really scared because I didn't want to lose. I was really choking. But I tried, you know, just to make him run because he was cramping. Just hanging there, maybe something will happen to him and he will retire or he will miss by himself, which he did. He made a few unforced errors in the tiebreak, a few forehands, and that's it.

Q. Were you hoping he would quit?

MARAT SAFIN: Yes, I was praying for it (laughter). Because I couldn't anymore, and just I wanted to finish this match because it just was terrible. Terrible match.

Q. Ever had a first-round match like that?

MARAT SAFIN: It's okay. Is good way to start, I think. Couldn't be worse, no (smiling)?

Q. How were you feeling?

MARAT SAFIN: How I'm feeling? Dead. Completely dead. Really tired. Really tired.

Q. Tired, but you weren't cramping yourself, or were you?

MARAT SAFIN: No, I start to feel something, you know, on 6-5. That's why I call the trainer, to make sure that I'm not fell down or something , to make sure that I'll be okay to play little bit, to be able to finish the match.

Q. Did he show a lot of courage?

MARAT SAFIN: What does it mean?

Q. Did your opponent show a lot of bravery in not quitting?

MARAT SAFIN: I mean, but -- I mean, if you are staying already for four hours, for four hours and a half, and then to quit so then you don't go out on the court. I think he did right. I mean, for sure he thought that he cannot finish the match. But at least if you are there already for four and a half hours and you are fighting, you know, doing everything to beat me, I mean, he did it right, I think. Was right decision.

Q. You kept your head a little bit. You didn't go completely crazy. You must be happy about that?

MARAT SAFIN: I was going nuts, actually. Because I had no more racquets and chair umpire already told me that I should be careful. I had no more power to shout or to the racquets, so I couldn't anymore.

Q. What do you mean you had no more racquets?

MARAT SAFIN: I finish all my racquets. I have only three left.

Q. Only three left?

MARAT SAFIN: So I have to be careful, yes.

Q. How many did you start with?


Q. There are so many injuries these days in tennis. All the hip surgeries, Philippoussis having to stop because of the knee. Today during the match there were two wheelchairs that were waiting in the back walkway by the locker room. Do you think in the future, it would be a better idea if they just bring the wheelchairs right on the court?

MARAT SAFIN: I think -- thanks for the doctors that are thinking about us when we are playing. It's really nice, really nice to hear about that, that they are taking care of us. I hope it will not happen, this things, that we will have to drive out the court. I hope not. The injury for the players is the worst thing that can happen. Philippoussis, he fell down leading two sets to one. It's like it's a pity that you are trying. He came out of injury, he trying to come back, then you get injured again. Is the worst thing for a sportsman, because it takes a lot of time to come back and takes a lot of time to compete in the same level.

Q. Can anything be done?

MARAT SAFIN: No. Unfortunately, no. It's really sad. That's why everybody, all the players are praying to not get injured. Any small injury, I mean a finger, some small muscles that you don't even know about them, they can bring you to trouble, you know, that you have to quit for two months. For two months, even for one month if you are out of the tournament, it's difficult to come back. You're not feeling the same way. The people are playing much better. It's -- the level of game is going, and you are just, you know -- you can do nothing. You have to start from zero.

Q. Do you think the intense schedule is what is causing all the injuries, or you think it's just coincidence?

MARAT SAFIN: No, because I think the tennis is getting a little bit more powerful. You know, we're playing much faster, you know. Just level of tennis is growing. Everything is power and fitness and all these things. So that's why sometimes the body doesn't, you know -- you can't anymore. That's why it breaks. You need to rest sometimes and you also have to make your schedule in the right way. You cannot play like five weeks in a row. The body cannot anymore after two, three weeks because the tennis is -- everybody's playing such a high level that you need to take a rest every two, three weeks. Otherwise, your body will be dead.

Q. You said you played a terrible match. What were the things you did wrong? Were they indicative of how you played this season?

MARAT SAFIN: I think way I played bad today is probably not because I just start to play well. First set was great, then I lost completely my concentration. I think because I didn't play since Cincinnati, since I lost Monday, I didn't play much. I didn't play a set. Of course it's difficult to play the tournament, come to Grand Slam and play a five-sets match and be prepared for that. Especially against Kiefer, he is a great player. I mean, he was 4 in the world. He knows how to play tennis.

Q. Why did you take so much time off?


Q. Were you injured or were you sick?

MARAT SAFIN: I was sick and injured (laughter). Everything. I was sick, and I had problems with my ribs. That's why I withdraw from Indianapolis.

Q. You had a very tough match with Grosjean when you won two years ago. Maybe this same thing can happen this year?

MARAT SAFIN: Hopefully. Would be great.

Q. Is it possible?

MARAT SAFIN: Everything is possible in this life, as you can see. So I think would be great. Because it cannot be any worse, I cannot play any worse. So I think I'll get better and better.

Q. How can the spectators help your game and how can they hurt it?

MARAT SAFIN: It's great. It's always great, you know, when you're playing tough match and somebody's supporting you, somebody like cares about you in that moment, they want you to win. That's wonderful feeling. You're not feeling alone on the court. You're feeling like -- I know they give you some more energy and they help you to play. They help you keep playing and keep fighting. Otherwise, there is no spectators, it would be boring for us. The people, they are making the game more exciting. I'm really happy that they're coming, supporting the players. That's great.

Q. Anything you wish they weren't doing?

MARAT SAFIN: No, no, no, no, no. Just support as much as they can. They should enjoy. We're entertainment for the people, right?

Q. Talking about injury, have you thought about what you want to do after your tennis career is over?

MARAT SAFIN: I'm still 22, man (laughter).

Q. Is there anything you've studied, anything you want to do beside play tennis?

MARAT SAFIN: I just start my first career. I have to finish first this one then I will think about other one. I hope I can play for few years more then I will think what I should do.

Q. Being from another country, what do you think about what's going on here in America with baseball players? They're about to go on strike. What do you think of something like that?

MARAT SAFIN: On strike, they're baseball players?

Q. Uh-huh.

MARAT SAFIN: I'm not a baseball fan (laughter). I'm not a baseball fan. I didn't even know that they're on strike. So I don't know, I have -- I think they have some reasons for that, right? Everybody has some reasons. So I think -- I think that they are right. It's their decision, they should do whatever they want.

Q. Pete Sampras plays his first-round match tomorrow. Do you think we've seen the last of his great days, or you think he can get it back together?

MARAT SAFIN: He's the greatest one. He's the best, the best player of all times. For me, the way he controls tennis for last six years, is amazing. Six years No. 1 in the world, 13 Grand Slams. Just I cannot even talk about him, it's like talking about God, you know? The guy is the best one. He will be the best one. I don't think that there will be another Pete Sampras.

Q. Who do you think has the best serve in the game today?


Q. Yes.

MARAT SAFIN: For me, the most difficult one, Arthurs. Arthurs, because lefty, beautiful motion, a lot of spin, power. It's very difficult to return. He beat Pete in Cincinnati. Is really difficult to play against the guy because he doesn't give you any rhythm, serves great, you know? He's tough player.

Q. Have you watched your sister play yesterday?


Q. What do you think? How did she play?

MARAT SAFIN: Definitely she played much better than me (laughing). No, it's good. She's first Grand Slam. It's difficult, you know, first round against Rita Grande. She's big player. I think she's good player. She was okay, you know. She tried. She was little bit nervous, is normal. She finished the match, she played well. Is the most important thing is to enjoy tennis, not just -- play, enjoy, have fun is what I want for my sister.

Q. What about the next match?

MARAT SAFIN: Mine or hers?

Q. Hers.

MARAT SAFIN: I want to see that match. Doesn't matter if is gonna be -- I think Serena gonna win. But still, you know, it's nice feeling to play on center court, I hope so they gonna play there. Maybe for my sister, she will have such a big experience at the age of 16, I think it's great.

Q. Can you see yourself teaming up with her at some point for a Grand Slam, playing mixed doubles together?

MARAT SAFIN: Not this year (laughter). I don't think next year either. I'm getting old, and she's getting better, so it's too much pressure.

End of FastScripts….

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