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December 2, 2006

Marat Safin

Dmitry Tursunov


THE MODERATOR: We have Marat Safin and Dimitry Tursunov. Questions, please.

Q. Marat, when did you find out that you would be playing the doubles?
MARAT SAFIN: I knew yesterday that I would be playing the doubles. This morning we had some briefing sessions. We decided who would be playing as my partner.
We crossed out Davydenko because he has to play on the third day. We also crossed out the candidacy of Youzhny because Youzhny still has some problems with his leg, it hurts. We didn't know whether Youzhny could withstand a five-setter. Dima was left. We played together a couple times before. We didn't expect to win, but we tried to catch our luck. It worked. We did catch our luck.

Q. What is your evaluation of the contribution to the common victory today of doubles, Marat?
MARAT SAFIN: 50/50. Again, I evaluate the contribution as 50/50. Dimitry really played well. They were targeting him throughout the whole match. He stood by, so...

Q. Maybe it makes sense for your doubles combination to be training together and playing more doubles matches to be able to play in the Beijing Olympics. How about your knee, Marat? Does it still hurt or is it okay?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, we did have plans to play doubles with Dimitry. The problem is we have a busy calendar in singles and we have to make a tough choice between singles and doubles. Obviously there's not enough energy left for the doubles. We opted for the singles.
As far as Beijing Olympics go, I would say we still have to wait until the Olympics begin. It's true, it would be great if we qualify for the doubles. I'd love to play with Dima in Beijing.

Q. Marat, yesterday you said the surface was not quite convenient for you. Was it said out of emotion or do you really think the court is bad for you?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, I've been knowing you personally for six years. Despite such a long period, you still don't understand anything in this sport.
What emotions can we possibly be talking about? I just achieved everything in tennis. Should I just stop my career and quit like today? That would be fine. So what emotions can we possibly be talking about?
Like I said yesterday, if the surface is not convenient to me, it's not convenient. It's not like I'm trying to blame the surface for my loss. If I said I can't move, I can't analyze in hindsight that match, it means I cannot move.
I'm 26 years old. I've been for eight years on the circuit. I don't want to tell any people fairytales about the surface. If I can't move, I can't move. It's still a surface that is not convenient to me.
It's not that bad for doubles because you play on half a court versus singles, and you don't have to move a lot. So for doubles, it's okay.

Q. You looked focused a hundred percent from the very beginning. You didn't even put on a smile on your face. How did you motivate yourself and stay focused throughout the whole match?
MARAT SAFIN: If we wanted to preserve our chances in this Davis Cup tie, we needed to stay focused. There was little hope. I didn't expect to win the doubles. There was little hope left.
It was all about who gets scared at the beginning of the match, who gets the first break. He who gets the first break will gain confidence. We just had to hold on to our serve. We had to communicate more with each other. At the end of the day, we played singles-style tennis in a doubles combination, and it worked.

Q. Was it planned along for you to play doubles, Marat? Maybe the captain had it as a strategy to throw off the Argentinians? Did the captain have Marat planned to play doubles all along? Youzhny was hurt a couple months ago. They weren't sure if he was going to be ready for this tie.
MARAT SAFIN: Well, I knew it from the beginning. I said from the beginning of the week that I want to play all three days. There is no problem for me to play all three matches. I would not accept the answer 'no' to me.

Q. Did you know before?
MARAT SAFIN: I knew for sure I'm going to play.

Q. Marat, you talked to Maradona. What did you talk to Maradona about? Dimitry, was it a surprise that you played doubles?
DIMITRY TURSUNOV: The surprise was that we won today (smiling).
MARAT SAFIN: We just said hi to each other. We knew each other via TV. It was a great honor for me to shake the hands with which he scored that goal in soccer - both of them (smiling).

Q. Dimitry Tursunov, you were not nominated as a singles player at the draw ceremony. Is there a chance we can see you playing singles tomorrow?
DIMITRY TURSUNOV: Yes, there is a chance. But we'll find out tomorrow. I think captain Shamil Tarpischev will take a look and we'll decide who plays better at this specific moment. If he thinks I play better than Marat or than Nikolay, he'll probably make me play.

Q. How unexpected for you was the transfiguration of David Nalbandian, who played so well yesterday and played much worse today? How important was the support of the Russian crowd, which was larger and noisier today?
MARAT SAFIN: As far as Nalbandian, I would say that yesterday he just probably was focused. He gave a hundred percent yesterday. Today he just didn't motivate himself enough. I think he had know emotion left, didn't take his chances. He didn't return well. He made some easy errors from the baseline. He helped us a lot to win. We thank him very much.
As far as the crowd support question goes, I'd say that it was much better than yesterday. We are happy that the Russians were yelling loud and shouting louder than the Argentinians. The crowd support was also effective for us. I'm sure even if we were losing, the crowd would be on our side.

Q. I apologize beforehand for a very stupid question. My impression is that you were targeting Nalbandian. Was he the weak point in the chain? Was there a plan to target Nalbandian?
MARAT SAFIN: As a matter of fact, I think we were more targeting Calleri versus Nalbandian because Nalbandian plays more confident tennis, he's more experienced. It seemed to me we were targeting Calleri. It now happens that it's not true.

Q. You're now a full-fledged member of the Russian national team, Dimitry. You scored important points for the national team. Could you please say how you got integrated into the team?
DIMITRY TURSUNOV: Well, if we speak about my integration, how I was playing the doubles, we lost with my participation in the doubles against France, Croatia, the Bryan brothers from America. They were pretty strong doubles combinations. The Bryans were No. 1 in the world. Clement and Llodra in France are top 10, maybe top five. It was just very hard for me being a singles players when you put two singles players together to win a doubles match.
This is not to say I'm a bad doubles player. The tie is not over yet. Hopefully everything will end well for us. After the tie is over, I will just tell you more about my integration into the team.
But I didn't have any problem being integrated into the team.

Q. Can we draw the conclusion that Shamil Tarpischev was placing his bet on your serves? Throughout the match we saw that Calleri and Nalbandian would discuss how best to return your serves.
DIMITRY TURSUNOV: Indeed we served well. I don't know, you can say whatever you want about the match, but I think the fact we served well helped a lot. What also helped is that we communicated with each other often. We communicated and told each other how best to play.
We decided from the very beginning it would be not inventing the wheel, it would be just playing our own tennis, the tennis we are used to.

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