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January 10, 2020

Marat Safin

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

THE MODERATOR: Questions for our Captain.

Q. Serbia tomorrow. What are your thoughts going into that one?
MARAT SAFIN: Very important. Well, it's going to be tough one, for sure. Like nothing new here.

Our first player is Karen. I think is very important for Karen to win that first match so he gives some confidence to Daniil.

Daniil, I think he will have a chance tomorrow. Well, obviously he'll have a chance. Especially Novak had the long match today. They are playing tomorrow morning, so hopefully Novak will not recover well.

Then doubles will be important ones, but I think we can -- we try to do it in the first two matches. I honestly believe so, even though Novak is Novak, but I still believe that we will win in two first matches, so we don't want to go into the doubles.

Q. Has Daniil had more sleep since last night? He was worried about jet lag and lack of sleep. He was a little bit feisty. Is he in a better mood now?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, obviously is like we came from Perth, as you know. Three hours' difference, also affects. Plus the conditions are a bit different than in Perth.

The way they feel on the court also is the same way, they're not really comfortable out there. But now I think they have enough time, they played long match, both of them, so got used to the courts, got used to the balls. They have enough time to recover.

They practice a little bit in the morning today. They have all day now to rest and prepare for the match. I think it's getting better. So hopefully tomorrow they will be 100%.

Q. They said they watched the match yesterday between Australia and Great Britain and got pretty engrossed in it apparently. Did you guys sit down and watch today's match with Serbia?
MARAT SAFIN: They were practicing on the same time when Novak was playing against Shapovalov, and we couldn't really enjoy that match, but apparently it was a very interesting one.

But you have to go to the office, practice yourself, and they were more focused on them, on tuning few things here and there regarding to the matches that they played and a few things to work on with the coaches. But yeah, I think it will be interesting match to see, but unfortunately we couldn't do it.

Q. Novak was pushed right to the wire today. Can you take anything out of that, Daniil, anything out of the match today in terms of taking him on?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, I think they know each other pretty well. The players, they know each other, they know how they play and the patterns of the game.

One match against Shapovalov will not show them something extra. I don't think so. Plus Shapovalov is lefty, so I don't think so.

Novak is not going to serve and volley all the time. It's more or less the same game, so it's important to focus on yourself.

Try to be yourself and try to squeeze the most out of your potential, because Novak will be there, will be running, will be fighting for every ball. And it depends on Daniil, how he will deal with the pressure, not pressure, how he will play, how he will start the game.

So it's better for them to focus on themself and it's less thinking and less thinking about others. I think it's better for them.

Q. Daniil had such a great finish to 2019. How far can you see him going in 2020? Can he get all the way to the top this year and win a slam?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, in tennis there is not a rule, but it's always very important thing. The first year, when you start and you do well, it's a little bit easier than the second year. Because second year everybody start to know you, start to learn you, and they try to change a tactic against you.

He was a newcomer last year. So this year I think he's working on a few new things to improve -- it's like a telephone. You have to upgrade each year each time. So I think players are doing the same on the preseason.

And the way that Daniil is thinking it, I think he will be dangerous this year. He's very pumped up. Plus Roger is not getting any younger. Rafa is still fighting, is going to be tough. Obviously these top three guys, Novak, Roger, and Roger are going to be there.

But everybody learn how to play against them. The problem is what you can do extra from your perspective, what you can deliver on the game. But he can be really dangerous. I think he can make some damage at Grand Slams.

And also the Grand Slams, is important to go through first week, first few matches, to get used to it. For example, I think Zverev is playing really well, and then when it comes to Grand Slam, something happens to him. He doesn't pass, I think, third round or something like this, from what I saw.

So, yeah, first two rounds, first three rounds is very important. But I think Daniil is getting more and more stronger in the head, even though he has few issues here and there, but who doesn't have these kind of things?

He's a big fighter. He's big fighter. He's very smart, which is good. He reads the game very well. It's easier for him to adapt to other players. He plays very good in important moments, in important matches, like we saw against Rafa in finals in US Open.

Even though he was two sets down to Love, and then he managed to turn around and almost had a chance in the fifth set, he's almost there. He has experience now. Now with these kind of matches here, he will have confidence also.

Q. Throughout the year, the guys prepare for matches with their individual teams, their coach, whoever they work with, but because you guys are all together, are you doing anything with them as a team to prepare for the matches? What's that sort of like?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, everybody, like you said, everybody has their own team, their own coaches. They know them better and they have better communication. I'm a little bit outsider, even though I'm a captain.

But I try to not to get too much involved. I ask the coaches if I may say something, and I go through coaches.

If the coaches allow me, I can give my opinion. Obviously it's my opinion, I'm not pushing anybody to do something what I said.

But if it works for them, if they find it reasonable, why not? Especially my advices, I am here, use them if you want, if you need it.

And pretty much we match with the coaches. We are talking about same things. But they might say with the different words. So it can get closer to the center of attention in some moments. Mainly it's the same things. It might be fresh words. That's what I say.

I leave it up to the coaches, yes, to work with them closer and I'm not trying to break that pattern.

Q. When we spoke a couple of months ago in London, you were still unsure -- you were looking forward to being captain but unsure about the ATP Cup. Now that you have had that experience, have been through it for a week, how much have you enjoyed being there, and what do you think about the event?
MARAT SAFIN: First of all, event is very interesting tournament for the beginning of the year, so they can play a lot of matches.

They are all friends on the team, so gives comfortable atmosphere inside the time team. They practice together. The format is great.

Then on my behalf, yeah, I was excited but I didn't know how to, because once you are player is one thing, and to be a coach or to be a captain is similar, but it's a little bit different perspective. That's very important to learn how in which moments what to say, how to say, and not to be too pushy but make them do things they need to do to win the matches.

So I can see myself from other perspective when I was a player, which was a disaster at some moments (smiling) and I accept that, but based on that experience I can be more effective in a way.

Yeah, so I think that helps a lot. Otherwise it's difficult. You need to know the moments, feel the moments, when is the right time, when is not the right time.

Not to overload them with information is also important, otherwise they have a head the size of this room and you want them simple things, short, and exact moment. That's it.

For me, I learned a lot. Experience-wise is amazing. Is very interesting, very interesting for me, too.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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