January 23, 2004
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA, M. SAFIN/T. Martin 7-5, 1-6, 4-6, 6-0, 7-5
THE MODERATOR: First question, please.
Q. Would you like to take the last serve back? Did you feel you were overdoing the serving to the forehand?
TODD MARTIN: Well, you know, I hit an awfully good serve. I know I served to his strength. But he was standing quite a ways back in the court and I thought for sure he'd be looking for a forehand. By serving him out wide, if I have to hit a volley, it opens up the court a little bit more for me. He had been returning pretty well. I don't really regret serving there. I don't think I can -- I don't think it's a very good attitude to expect him to hit as good of a return as he did. I think there are some serves I didn't use enough, but, you know, it's more than just one point.
Q. How is Safin played compared to the last time you played him at the Open?
TODD MARTIN: Well, it's hard for me to compare. It's a number of years ago. I think at that point in time he was sort of in a bubble, and everything he was doing worked extremely well. I think most of us play pretty well when that's how we feel physically. But today I thought he competed really well and still, geez, not short on talent. He certainly out-fired me in the last two sets.
Q. Do you think during the second and third set you had his composure a bit rattled; you had a chance to get on top of him there?
TODD MARTIN: I did, but I think Marat, one, recognized that I was playing very well. Unfortunately, wasn't probably blaming himself as much as I would have liked him to. Two, he had, after I got up an early break in the third, sort of righted his ship a bit and played a fairly good set from 1 or 2-love down. I think that really helped him. I think the fact that he played, you know, four, maybe five good service games the remainder of that set before starting the fourth, and then I had some really good chances early in the fourth that I was a little hesitant on. Before I knew it, instead of being up 1-love serving, I was down 2-love, a break. He just started letting the ball fly more. Boy, when that happens, it's tough.
Q. How are you physically?
TODD MARTIN: I'm good. I certainly feel I've played more tennis in the last few days than I have in the last few months. All things being considered, I feel good. I need to get stronger and in better shape. But all things being considered, the thing I was most concerned about held up well and some other sort of fairly consistent nags stayed away, so I'm pleased.
Q. Are you encouraged for the year?
TODD MARTIN: Absolutely, yeah. After the first two sets here, nothing bad happened this week, and I was real pleased. Real pleased.
Q. How much of a difference does it make having a whole day off between matches at a Grand Slam, even if they are three out of five sets, to, say, a Masters Series where unless you get a bye, you have to play six days in a row?
TODD MARTIN: Well, I think the second part of -- I really don't like the looming thought of, "Even if I play well, I've got six straight days of work," especially against Top 40 or 50 players. I think I would rather be taxed more and then have proper time to recuperate than to be taxed less and not have as much time to recuperate. And also in a Grand Slam, most of the guys who end up doing really well in that Grand Slam at least have one or two matches that are at least relatively smooth. The Masters Series, even if you have one of those relatively smooth matches, you still got to walk back out on the court the next day.
Q. People get their money's worth when they watch you play. What's the deal with you and five-setters?
TODD MARTIN: Well, I guess I'm very evenly matched with everybody (laughter). Sometimes I don't start off as quickly as I need to, and sometimes I start off quickly and don't sustain as well. Sometimes, frankly, you get two professional competitors out there and each of them find a way to do their job as well as they can. I think today was more that than anything else.
Q. Do you think we'll see you back here again next year?
TODD MARTIN: Yeah, I don't know if that's gonna be the case or not. But I wouldn't be a bit surprised if this is my last year. But if it's not my last year of competition, I will be back here. It's a great place to play. Just a matter of whether I'm committed to playing in 2005.
Q. You had some doubts last year...
TODD MARTIN: I wasn't here last year.
Q. But during the course of the year.
TODD MARTIN: Yeah, I had plenty of doubts. I feel a lot better about myself and this career, and it certainly makes walking out on the court feel great. Walking off the court feels pretty good, too. But there's lots of other things going on in my life, and it's getting to the point where I'm at least willing to consider pursuing more regularly the other things.
Q. Does your son travel with you?
TODD MARTIN: At times. Not constantly, and not never. But it's never the best way it can be. Home is the best way it can be.
Q. You are going to play for sure the rest of the year? Have you made that decision?
TODD MARTIN: I have a schedule plan through the US Open. Unless I'm for sure going to compete in 2005 and I have substantial reason to play in the fall, I'll take the fall off regardless. It might be take the fall off and retire. But I'm looking forward to the next eight months of grinding myself down and hopefully grinding a few of the other guys down, too.
Q. Can you talk about James against Marat.
TODD MARTIN: Well, I think it's such a different matchup. James will match him a little bit better as far as the firepower from the back court and the athleticism from the back court. He'll maybe win a few more sort of intangible points, not sort of the cookie-cutter stuff. I think Marat's serve is going to be a lot for James to contend with. But one good thing for James, I think, or two good things. One, he had a pretty simple match today and he'll be ready physically, no problem. The other thing is that Marat's going to have just a completely different look on Sunday. Our games are so different. Today he saw somebody run at him and run at him and run at him, and probably not run at him as much as I should have. On Sunday he's going to have somebody running side to side and with just a lot more firepower from the back court. So, hopefully, I'll be able to get home tomorrow and turn on the TV Sunday to take a gander.
Q. Do you consider Marat a serious threat to win the tournament?
TODD MARTIN: I would, yeah. I think you just have to look at a couple weeks ago when Escude won after being off for quite a while. He certainly didn't show any signs physically that anything was wrong, and he might not feel things are as natural as they were before he got hurt, but he's much more fresh in the mind. I think Marat struggled for a little while not enjoying himself. But I was really impressed today that he hung in there after having the tide turn on him. Game-wise, he's got as much as pretty much anybody here. If things go well, things will go well.
Q. Davis Cup starts just a few days after the Open. Are you interested? If so, what do you think of your prospects?
TODD MARTIN: Well, I'm always interested in Davis Cup. Unfortunately, I doubt Patrick McEnroe is too interested in me. But, you know, I'll keep plugging away, hope the boys take care of business in Connecticut. Maybe I'll have a purpose to serve later in the year.
Q. You're a highly intelligent man, very eloquent. You might have even had the Democratic nomination if you jumped in a bit early.
TODD MARTIN: Or if I were a Democrat (laughter). I've got a couple years to wait. In the States, we need to be 35 to be president so... Maybe 2008. Watch out.
Q. Have you thought about what you might do in post retirement, what course you might take? Stay in tennis, own a business?
TODD MARTIN: Well, basically, I have two choices - one, stay in tennis, and, two, run in 2008. I figure after the next four years of George Bush's presidency, he'll need to be replaced, so I'll be ready (smiling). No, I...
Q. You can run with Martina.
TODD MARTIN: (Smiling). I'm not at all anxious about what comes after tennis, but I've got plenty of options ranging from staying real involved in the sport, preferably in development, to being Mr. Mom and letting my wife pursue her career.
Q. What is her career?
TODD MARTIN: She's an event planner.
Q. Event planner?
TODD MARTIN: Yep.
Q. This is a little off the wall. Federer doesn't have a coach. Marat doesn't have a coach. Who would you want to coach, Federer or Marat?
TODD MARTIN: Well, I think if you ask most people, they wouldn't make a stink about coaching either one of them. I think it's hard to lose, as a coach, when you have talent to work with. In those two guys you have - to put it mildly - an abundance of talent to work with. I don't know either one of them well enough to know who would work harder for me or who would allow me to be the type of coach that I think most coaches want to be.
Q. Do you know how you'd go about it with each one of them?
TODD MARTIN: Yeah, yeah. It's pretty simple. I think both of them are moving in the right direction. I think the fact that Marat is coming to the net a lot more than he used to, I was thinking today the first time I was ever on the court with him was in Atlanta in Davis Cup, doubles. Boy, I was ready just -- we tried, Richey and I literally tried to hit every return to him when Yevgeny was serving and just try to make him volley when he was serving. Now, he actually volleys very competently. Such a good athlete everywhere. I think athleticism is most effective forward in the court. And Roger is, I think, blessed with such a natural all-court game. To me, he's always very committed to using that all-court game. I think that's one of the most important, if not the most important, steps towards becoming the best player you can be, is understanding how you stand to play your best tennis. I think Marat is getting -- moving in that direction. Roger, I think it's pretty natural for him.
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