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August 13, 2007

Marat Safin



Q. Last week you were quite encouraged by some things and things seemed to be going right. What happened?
MARAT SAFIN: Didn't feel right on the court. Nothing really happened. I don't know. Then that's it.

Q. And was it difficult to adjust to the speed of the court or anything like that?
MARAT SAFIN: The ball is going faster than Montreal and I couldn't find myself on the court and the balls are flying so couldn't hit winner because I was not secure with my shots. That's what happens.

Q. Do these kind of defeats make any difference to you? With a match like this, can you just write it off as a bad day?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah. It's the best thing to do. Wasn't really even a match. Nothing to compare with. The match is not all I think about because it was everything was going wrong at the beginning of the first set.
He made me a really fast break and started to get more complicated and then just forget about this one.

Q. When you were younger were you ever a ball boy?

Q. At the Kremlin Cup?

Q. What are your memories of that?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, the first you watch the professional tennis it's a little bit different feeling to play yourself. I play at the level of, I don't know, being one of the best in Russia. To be able to see how far the ball is going, basically where you're aiming, who you want to become. It's where you want to be.
It was a big opportunity to see from close how they play tennis, because from the stands it's a little bit different than from the court.

Q. Did you do it one year or more?
MARAT SAFIN: Twice, I think.

Q. Do you remember the years by any chance?
MARAT SAFIN: '90, '92 maybe.

Q. Do you have any memorable matches, any memorable experiences, players that you looked up to?
MARAT SAFIN: Not really, because it was I just remember the names. It was Bjorkman. It was same people that I started with basically. It's pretty funny.

Q. Have you talked to Jonas about that?

Q. What does he think?
MARAT SAFIN: Nothing much. What he going to say? Well done.

Q. Is it more disappointing or frustrating for you when you have a day like this when you can't seem to find your game?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, but so many days in my life, so not like I'm going to kill myself and feel bad for next month and a half. It happened, it happened. It's not like it's last day of my life. It's not the match that I will remember for the rest much my life, so who cares. Play like terribly and so that's it. Life moves on.

Q. You were playing better the second set. Did you feel like maybe you had a chance to get back in it?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, kind of. Small chance. Didn't take it. Timing was all off, and it's disappointing but it's okay. Just one match, tennis match.

Q. Where do go from here?
MARAT SAFIN: Miami. So it's not a bad idea, huh, to lose the first round and go to Miami?

Q. Earlier in the summer you were talking about making a conscious effort to really go for it up to the US Open. How do you feel your game is overall?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, it's just -- I start to explain to you guys what happened. It's just a very long story. Basically what happened is the knee injury basically destroyed my game, so I have to break everything what I been doing for last one year and a half since I came back from the injury and try to rebuild my game, what I used to play before the injury.
Because it kind of basically took me away for such a long time, I had to start to make many different movements on the court to protect my left knee. And then use the left knee in the backhand, forehand, all the movements. I start to protect it, and basically end up with a game I never played before.
So now I have to change everything back to older memories. It's quite a few months to be able to find your game back, and that's why I have a new coach. He realized and looked at me and said, Listen, this is not the way you used to play. I guess it's because of that, that, and that. It will take a couple months to get used to it and then you will see the difference.
That's what we're doing. Don't really care about the results right now. Who cares? Doesn't matter if you are 24 or 35, it's the same thing. Just I'm not aiming to be there. I'm aiming to be in the top 20. If it's not this year it's going to happen next year. If not next year, there's many years to come.
You have to enjoy on the court and not to run around and try to save and scramble and go all over the court. It's not really tennis that I would like to play.

Q. Are you feeling 100% now in terms of the injury?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah. But somebody had to go from outside what happened to my game, because I really felt like I'm losing it and eventually I lost my game. I couldn't hit winners and he said I was not moving on the court the right way, and that's why all the shots disappear.
One thing went to another thing and then of course it made a big problem, and that's why I have to break everything down and start building all over again the tennis. So I guess for next year I'll be okay.

Q. Earlier in your career do you think you would have been more upset by a loss like this? Because people know you a very emotional, passionate player. Like you said, this is not life or death, but do you think when you were younger you would have taken it harder than now?
MARAT SAFIN: Why you want to know that for?

Q. I just meant is it different for you now because you're an older player?
MARAT SAFIN: Of course. I have the experience. If I would find myself in the same situation when I'm twenty years old and I don't know how to -- I couldn't win the match, for example, for six months and my position is 18 or 25 in the world and defending all my points going into the fall, of course I would be much more disappointed than right now.
But right now I have pretty good years of my career and a lot of experience, so I just have a bad moments and good moments still to come I know. It's just a tennis match. You know, I've been there for two hours of my life today, so I have another basically six hours to go to sleep.
Could you imagine if I start to think about the bad hours on the court and ruin my day?

Q. I have a strange question: Have you started to wear shorts with no pockets?
MARAT SAFIN: No, no, no, it's just the pockets are too small.

Q. So that's why you take the ball from --
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, yeah.

Q. Doesn't that break your rhythm?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, it's not comfortable, really. Their falling down. So I just have to do it.

Q. Do you feel your knee any time after the match?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, after the long match and you've been running a lot so of course I have -- it's disturbing a little bit because it's sore, which is normal. It's a little tendonitis, so I do the procedure: Put some ice and stretch the leg and typical thing I'm doing for one year and a half, so I'm used to it.
But it's much less than it used to be before when I came back from the injury, so now at least everything is all right. I can run and feel 100% on the court, which is not bad.

Q. Do you recuperate over the night?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, yeah. It's okay.

Q. Am I right in saying that the US Open is one of your favorite tournaments, if not your favorite?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah. I have also my issues with this tournament.

Q. But what are your realistic ambitions this year if you're thinking about next year being fully fit?
MARAT SAFIN: Just go there also. Not put too much pressure on yourself and not to worry the ranking and let's see what's going to happen the first round and then who's going to be the second round. It's really not going to happen, anything great, this year. I don't have any expectations. It's the best thing to do actually, and I go match by match.
Then if everything goes well, I start to get the confidence and then maybe I get to the second week I can be dangerous. But it's still a long way and a long process and really far away from my confidence and my best game, so let's keep it this way.

Q. Are you still enjoying playing?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah. Of course otherwise I would not be here. I would be somewhere in the south of France on the beach, or an yacht.

Q. When you were a ball boy did you work for Rosset?

Q. Did you joke about that when he was coaching you?
MARAT SAFIN: No. Nobody really like -- this conversation doesn't go too far actually.

Q. No?
MARAT SAFIN: No, not really. Not really. Nobody -- I guess it's maybe uncomfortable situation for them and for me, but it doesn't go bar far. Because actually they never remember you as a ball boy.

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