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January 15, 2007

Marat Safin



Q. Do you like these late-night matches?
MARAT SAFIN: Not really fun.

Q. Not really fun?

Q. You have a knack of giving the fans good value for money at that time of night.
MARAT SAFIN: Half of them, they left after the first two sets with us it was quite boring. We had to stay. I cannot say it was really a beautiful match, but it was a lot of fighting. I guess some people that stayed, they really enjoyed it.

Q. Given you're still on the comeback from injuries last year, do you think it's good to get a five-setter under your belt early in the tournament?
MARAT SAFIN: It's kind of difficult to play. I've been injured for such a long time. There's a lot of things that really are giving me some trouble, for me to stay and for me to start the year, start to move on the court in a tournament. It's completely different to the practice.
Once you're injured with the knee, it takes a little bit of time to get used to the movement on the courts, the tough conditions. A five-set match, actually last set I played pretty well. Hopefully everything will go okay and I'm moving all right.
But it's -- even a little bit unlucky tonight you can lose this match, so...

Q. Were there stages tonight where you thought you were going to lose it?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah. Well, after third set, I couldn't really find my game. I didn't believe in myself that I could pull this one off. I was lucky. He missed a couple of shots.
Maybe it's a little bit lack of experience, so I took advantage of this. When I had my chance, I took them. He made a couple of easy mistakes that he shouldn't have. They were unnecessary mistakes from him. He just threw the balls out, forehand, backhand, that was it. It was a break without doing anything.

Q. You've come here before off long-term injuries, time-outs, had to play some long matches, then made it to the final. Do you draw confidence from that for this campaign?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, hopefully. Hopefully this match will give me enough confidence to keep on going, because the other match is going to be tough. The guy beat Srichaphan. The draw is pretty tough, so these kind of matches, sooner or later you need to, because these kind of matches, they give you the confidence.

Q. Pretty good record in five sets. When you lose in the fifth set, it's close. Do you go to a fifth set with a special frame of mind?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, kind of. I don't know for some reason I'm going to the fifth set a little bit more positive than I used to be before for some reason. But today, this kind of match, I knew I will have a chance in the fifth set because the guy started to be a little bit tired.
He started to make a little bit easy mistakes, like shooting the forehand and the backhand. He was not serving as hard as he was serving at the beginning of the first couple of sets. I knew that I just have to stay with him.
I would say that I was not a hundred percent today on the court. I was missing a lot of shots. Movement was terrible. But then in the end of fourth, fifth set, I started to move a little better because he slowed down. For me, this kind of match gives me a little bit of confidence and get used to the courts, to the speed of the ball.
Fifth set, just have to stay there against this kind of player because sooner or later they going to snap because they don't have enough, I would say, experience because he's a newcomer. He didn't play really a lot of matches with fifth set. I have to take advantage of this.

Q. You said your movement was not that good. Was that the explanation, why you were a little bit off with your forehands?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, yeah. Forehand was terrible today. Just nervous, like a normal person. Because you want to do well, it's a new year. Last year was terrible from the beginning till almost the end of it. Starting from a blank list, you want to do well. The expectations are a little bit too high.
Maybe the bar is a little bit too high. Maybe you just want to get through the first round. Of course, you start to be nervous.

Q. Do you feel like you're the defending champion?
MARAT SAFIN: No, far away. I just want to try to break through to the top 20. Just it's tough because really so many years on tour you start to think a little bit too much. When you're young, you don't think about things that you are thinking at age of 28, 26, 27. That's why it's difficult to play when you're getting older.

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