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June 23, 2009

Marat Safin


J. LEVINE/M. Safin
6-2, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Marat Safin. Questions, please.

Q. Is this really it, you and Wimbledon?

Q. How do you feel?
MARAT SAFIN: Relieved. Pretty much relieved (smiling).

Q. Really?

Q. Don't wish you had a run like last year for your final Wimbledon?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, this is the situation, and I have to deal with that. Was not really my day. Not the perfect thing. Not the way to finish Wimbledon story.
But anyway, it's okay. That's life. There is plenty of years coming towards me, so...

Q. You played some great matches here at Wimbledon. Could you pick a couple of your favorites for us?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, there haven't been really many of them that I played well. So I think against Ivanisevic in 2001 that I had a chance to win it, the year he won. And last year I think against Djokovic. That's it. Not much.

Q. Putting all the years together, how do you think in five years' time will you look back at Wimbledon? Will you have fond or bitter memories?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, I don't know if I'll think at all about tennis for a couple of years, because I've been playing for plenty of years.
I think eventually, of course, I will have something in the back of my mind, you know, still think about it. Of course, I will think, but not -- I don't think straightaway after I'm stopping with tennis.
But a couple of years has to pass. Nostalgia will come back to me when I'll be watching tennis.

Q. When we first saw you on the tour, many of us saw this big Russian kid hitting hard, big win over Sampras. How have you changed as a person and player since then?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, many things happened in my career. A lot of things. The life was pretty intense, so I can't complain. A lot of things were happening like day to day. A lot of changes, a lot of difficult situations, a lot of fun situations.
But I think I've managed to do pretty well in my career, the way the level is going, and I make some right decisions. Unfortunately, I was a little bit unlucky with my injuries. That's the only thing that I regret, but I cannot do anything about it.
But also I make a couple of great comebacks. But eventually just the knee injury was really tough to come back from. Didn't manage. Managed only to get into top 20. Well, last couple of weeks. That's it. But it took quite a long time to play tennis without any pain.
But still it made me a little bit slower than I used to be before. And, of course, it's tough to play against the big guys. Of course it's tough to play against any guys, compete against them, because everybody is running, everybody is fast, everybody is shooting left and right, and you have to be hundred percent.
When you're injured with the knees, something with the legs, it's not easy to recover, so...

Q. One single thing in your career you could sit down and change?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, they all coming in chains, so everything is like -- it's like a circle. You can't take one part of it. It would go in the other direction. Just the whole thing, the circumstances, decisions I made, circumstances, there were not so many choices.
So I had to choose from A, B and C, but I made pretty well. Actually I managed pretty well. A couple of mistakes, but not really regret, because it gave me a real experience in life, I think.

Q. If your mother hadn't been a tennis instructor, do you think you still would have had an interest in tennis and still would have pursued it?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, this is also an interesting part, because there was not many chances that I would play any other sport except tennis. So she really decided for me. She made the right decision, actually, because I don't know what I would do if not because of her.
And, of course, I loved hockey. I loved soccer. But there was no way that I would play these sports. I was born for tennis, especially.

Q. Do you think you were also born for sports or if you were put in school you might have gone in another direction?
MARAT SAFIN: Better in sports. Better in sports. Much better in sports (smiling). I learn pretty fast. You show me what I have to do, I am pretty fast with it.
But counting -- well, counting I like, but reading and memorizing is not really for me. So it was a right choice to stick in tennis.

Q. When you set a date on retiring, is it hard to keep going? Does it feel like you're going through the motions towards the end?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, it's the last year. But just I'm gonna -- my last trips to the places that I really like, I chose the tournaments this way. Why not? Still in shape. I'm probably in the best shape I ever could be. Taking care of myself. Still not winning a lot of matches, but still here. So I'm mentally strong.
It's still nice to come for the last time to the tournaments.

Q. What are you most looking forward to next year when it's all over with?
MARAT SAFIN: Definitely a huge vacation. Definitely need to think, need to rest. First of all I think rest, because there's been a lot of pressure throughout the years, a lot of tough moments. I need to just cool down, because it's been a lot of emotions, a lot of, like I said, stress, a lot of advantages, a lot of semifinals, second serves, and a lot of these things.
So I need to get out of my brain and start from a new page. And I need a couple of -- more than a couple of months just to start all over again from the blank paper.

Q. You're such a free spirit, yet you said the game is so uptight, too many controls. What are your thoughts about that in general, and smashing a tennis racquet in particular?
MARAT SAFIN: There's a kind of frustration, of course. I don't know how people they can keep it inside, all of it. I mean, even Federer, once he smashed a racquet in Miami. But it's surprising he did it only once in his career probably, how he keeps everything in side.
But he had cries. He cries after winning. That's also a surprising part for me. But, anyway, everybody's emotions, the emotions comes out in different moments. So I cannot keep it inside when I'm losing and I'm frustrated. I need to get it out. Then I can play.
Because otherwise if everything accumulates inside of me, I cannot play. I cannot think. I cannot perform. I cannot run. I'm just blocked. So I need to get a relief and start all over again.

Q. Do you think the rules and the code conducts should be changed so people can express their feelings?
MARAT SAFIN: Oh, don't get there, because otherwise you're gonna see a lot of balls flying around and racquets, and a lot of swearing. I don't think you want that extreme.

Q. What did you know about your opponent today before the match?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, I knew that he's talented lefty, tough player, fast, has nothing to lose, gonna go for it. He's a tough one. He has nothing to -- yeah, this is the toughest ones.

Q. Was there anything about his game that impressed you today?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, he served pretty well in the important moments. I know when it was Love-40 in the third set and a couple of other breakpoints, he served pretty well. Second serve he made an unbelievable pickup volley - unbelievable. So I couldn't expect that coming on a breakpoint in a crucial moment of the match.
Because after that the match would go completely the other direction. And also thanks for the guy who made the call. I want to say hello to him. Too bad that he was a little bit too blind today. But anyway, that's tennis. That's tiebreak.

Q. In your Wimbledon career, who do you rate as the best grass court player you faced?
MARAT SAFIN: I lost to everybody I think here who I could. I didn't even get to play with the good players, except Federer and Djokovic, and that's it. Pretty much it. Ivanisevic, okay.
I have nothing to compare with actually.

Q. We can probably assume grass was not your favorite surface. Now that it's behind you, do you have any different feeling about it?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, quarterfinal, semifinal, tough to move for me, for a tall guy, been struggling for a couple of years. But managed to get into semifinals, where I don't think a lot of people, they managed to do that.
And be in a semifinal in all four Grand Slams, I think there's not so many of us. Nalbandian, me. I think Hewitt didn't even make it. Roddick. So it makes it special.
But thanks to Wimbledon I have this achievement.

Q. When people look back and say, Hey, two majors, that's fantastic, but overall the guy has been an underachiever. I know you bristle at that. Do you think there's any truth at all to that take on you as an under achiever?
MARAT SAFIN: You know what, it's been -- in the history of tennis, everybody's an underachiever. Everybody. Every single person. Every single player is an underachiever. Agassi should have been winning, I don't know, 15 Grand Slams. Sampras should have been winning 20 Grand Slams. Federer should be winning -- already should have 25. Rios at least five.
So you know what I'm saying. It's like everybody's underachiever. Everybody could do better.

Q. So what should have been your overachiever mark?
MARAT SAFIN: I should probably have win a couple of more, but I'm pretty satisfied with what I did.

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