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July 4, 2008
R. FEDERER/M. Safin
6-3, 7-6, 6-4
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. What, if anything, would you have done differently?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, just to be able to do something different from the beginning. You need to play these kind of matches a little bit more often because it's just a different rhythm, it's just a different player. It's just difficult to start the match the way you want to start.
And, of course, he puts so much pressure on the return that it's too much. You need to play more matches. That's the only thing. Because otherwise it's just a game plan, of course. You know how to play against him, but lack of matches doesn't make them work.
Q. After your last match you said it would be very difficult, probably too difficult, to beat Roger Federer. How difficult is that right now with how well is he playing?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, just as I said right now, you need to play a little bit more matches, these kind of matches against Djokovic, Nadal, Roddick, to be able to play something, better tennis, to be able to compete at the same level with him. And that's also typical, the three-set match, you know.
He's playing well. He's playing solid. Doesn't do anything fancy. Just plays how he needs to play to be able to win. He has a couple of shots when he's under pressure. He does them all the time. So just nothing fancy.
The only thing that was missing a little bit too much in important moments. That's where he takes the advantage from.
Q. What are your thoughts if he is facing Rafael Nadal in the final about that matchup?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, he's just playing -- both of them are playing great match. Federer, he probably has more experience on grass than Nadal. But Nadal, he took him to five sets last year, and he's playing incredibly well right now on any surface.
He won in Queen's. The way he's playing right now, it's just amazing because also the grass became slower, so it gives advantage to Nadal. So I think it's gonna be a tough, really tough one.
And Roger, he has to play his best tennis to be able to beat him.
Q. Who do you think will win?
MARAT SAFIN: Oh, it's a tough one. A tough one. I would love to watch it because it's gonna be tough. Nadal is playing just too good. Let's see how Roger gonna start the match.
Q. A lot of guys go out there against Federer and get overwhelmed. Looked like you were holding your own with him for long periods. Is that encouraging for you for the future?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, but the beginning was terrible. I mean, like, I should have at least stayed with him a little bit longer. But just, of course, he takes advantage. My first semifinals. I'm a little bit nervous.
I'm going to try to play and try to be safe from the beginning of the match and try to stay with him. He put a little bit too much pressure for me to win the first service game and to be able to stay with him in the match.
That was the goal. Because eventually he will give you a few easy points where you can just resolve them and just maybe to push him maybe to go to the net, or he will miss it.
But 6-3 for the beginning, just a little bit -- a lot of advantage for me to play, and play to win. And then, of course in the tiebreak, the first point was a terrible mistake from the middle of the court. You can't miss these shots against these kind of players. That's what makes a huge difference.
When you have a chance you need to go for it. Everybody makes the same mistakes, everybody - except Nadal. That's what makes the difference between Federer and the rest of the players.
Q. Your two breakpoints you could have done a little bit better.
MARAT SAFIN: Maybe, but I didn't expect he was going to serve twice exactly right into my body. I had to attack it. Because two times he just served perfectly to the body. Normally the person doesn't do it.
Then I tried to stay back and he just saw it and then he placed the ball, kick wide. So he was great at the breakpoint. He didn't even give me a chance.
But I should have done better, that's for sure. Like I said, that's what makes the big difference between us and him.
Q. You said in answer to the first question that you know the game plan, you know what you have to do to beat him. Can you describe that a little bit?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, everybody says his best shot, so based on that. They need to build up the game plan against Federer. I mean, every time he has under pressure he puts the slice, short slice, for you to come into the net.
So everybody's always just slicing back to the backhand, and he makes the passing shot down the line, which is a simple one.
Or who has a better backhand, they try to spin it a little bit too much. Then of course the frame's coming in and then you missing on the let tape. That's what's happening.
Nobody really give him a chance to pass you. That's what's happened today, because we were going a little bit for too much. That's the problem.
But rather than that, he is pushing you on the forehand. Slice it to the backhand, you know, with a backspin. So you can't really attack it, you can't really do anything special with it. You can build up the point, but every time you touch his forehand, he start to push you around.
So that's basically two free shots that you know that he gonna make it. And every time you have it you miss it. So it's too simple. It's really simple, but you can't do nothing about it. Because every time you have it, you frame it or you put it on the net. It is annoying, annoying.
And every time you have a breakpoint and he's really under pressure, he serve the first serve, that's for sure. So it's simple, but disappointing (smiling).
Q. Does this Wimbledon give you confidence you can get back to the top?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, I believe so. I want to take full advantage of it, and I'm trying to look forward and try to accommodate as many matches as I can before I start to play the big tournaments, you know, like the US Open is coming up. You know, you want to be seeded.
I want start to do better on Masters Series events, because otherwise I didn't pass the second round last three years. It's a little bit disappointing also.
But I think with these matches that I won here, it should help me to get through second round and third round and look forward to beating the big guys.
Q. You said earlier something like you have the money to do whatever you want, and right now what you want to do is play tennis. Talk a little bit about your passion for the game. When did you felt you lost that passion?
MARAT SAFIN: I never lost it, otherwise I would have stopped long time ago really, because for sure I'm not doing it for the money. Nobody's doing it for the cash. I think there's plenty of players that they are doing it because they love the game. Like Ivanisevic. He was ranked a hundred something in the world and he asked for the wild card. He was not doing it for the money.
He doesn't really need the paycheck by winning Wimbledon. One million more, one million less doesn't really make a whether.
But just we love the game. We love to go on the court. We love to play great matches. We love to suffer and we love to win. That make a huge difference, because after tennis you gonna miss that adrenaline. You know, it's just like point by point, and you are playing, you are playing the game.
When the it's over, it's over. That's why it's a little bit tough to leave. It's not about the money. It's not about anything. It's just -- to be able to play and perform on the court I think is a very strong feeling.
Q. Do you have any idea what you'll do after your career?
MARAT SAFIN: Uhm, too many options. Hopefully I will decide the right one. Definitely not commentating, that's for sure.
Q. You said, We love to suffer. What do you mean by that? Overcoming challenges?
MARAT SAFIN: No, it's the challenges. Every time you going on the court, every time you are nervous. Doesn't matter against who you play, anybody, Federer, Nadal, is also getting nervous against any player.
This is the first feeling that you can lose, you can win, just beginning of the match. Just whole thing is just whole preparation, practices. You live it. You live tennis. This is the life. It's not only sport. But it's always a pressure. You're dealing with the pressure. And once it's over, you start to miss it.
But sometimes, of course, it gets too tough on us. When there's too much pressure, of course it's difficult to perform. But I used to do it for 25 years already, so this is our life.
And I think, what you call that, adrenaline, I guess. That's what it's called. It's too strong.
Q. What do you think of the Nadal/Federer rivalry compared to Sampras and Agassi? Do you find it interesting? Or not so good that they're two good friends?
MARAT SAFIN: Very. Just everybody is a friend. Everybody is a friend in the locker room. But it's just interesting to see, because everything depends on the tactics.
Clay court is just too tough for Federer because Nadal, for example, is playing open stance backhand and forehand, so he can't really make him stretch. He cannot do anything. He cannot go to the volley because Nadal is just too fast and he's using the open stance, that's it.
But here, for example, he will try to push him, and maybe he has more chance here. But just definitely I think it's more fun than Sampras/Agassi.
MARAT SAFIN: Because I'm living this generation (smiling). Sampras/Agassi was great, but we were too young to understand that. But we are living it. We are living it right now. We know how Nadal is in the locker room. I can speak to both of them. You know, for us it's a little bit closer. Let's put it this way.
Just we feel more about Federer and Nadal than Sampras and Agassi because we couldn't understand it because they were too big for us to be able to live it.
Q. How will history remember Federer and Nadal, do you think?
MARAT SAFIN: I hope one of the greatest. Two of them, they will be the greatest tennis players in the history. Because Nadal didn't lose a match on clay since, I don't know, he was 10 maybe. And Federer, he's going for his sixth Wimbledon. He definitely I think gonna pass the 14 Grand Slams. I hope for him. So I guess I can say to my kids that I played against him.
And I think just also two great guys, to be honest. Really down-to-earth. Federer is quite funny. Nadal is also, he's there. No, very interesting. It's good to be with them in the same locker room.
Q. How will history remember Safin?
MARAT SAFIN: Hopefully with the good things. Hopefully good things.
End of FastScripts