How did you feel today?
SAFIN: Well, it was good. It was, actually, for my first win
in two months. So it was pretty -- I was pretty happy. I was
a little bit nervous at the beginning, and then I started
to feel better and better. A little bit I gain some confidence.
And was good. Good win for me.
Can you talk about your past few tournaments where you've
had early exits.
SAFIN: Yeah, was like a little bit disappointing for me. I
had chances, and I had I would say -- just I had a lot of
chances. I couldn't take them. Even against -- last week against
Kiefer I didn't play really my best tennis, but I was there,
I had the opportunity in the second set. Like I had the set
and 2-Love. I couldn't hold my serve. And then it started
to be complicated, and then he started to play with more confidence.
And he beat me. It was like third-set tiebreak is a lottery.
So I was little bit unlucky. Also in Wimbledon was same situation,
you know. So it's basically the first win from French Open.
How important is it for this momentum?
SAFIN: Very important. Very important. Very important to win
some matches and start to win, you know, to get the confidence
back, and try to work on yourself, not to rush too much, and
try to go for another one. I mean, it's so complicated to
get the confidence back. So you have to, you know, to take
match by match and go slowly because everybody's playing pretty
well. And they have to be focused. It's tough conditions.
So it might help me because I didn't play a lot of matches
so, you know, I am a little bit more fresh than other players.
It was a pretty quick win today. What was the difference?
SAFIN: I mean, he didn't -- I played like I had nothing to
lose, so I tried to do my best. I was running, I was fighting,
I was serving well. So I didn't make big change in my match.
And then he didn't really play well. I mean, I have to be
honest. He didn't really felt comfortable on the court. So
it was a matter of making a break in the first set, and things
would be much easier. That's why it went so easy in the second
set. He couldn't find himself on the court basically, and
I took advantage of it.
What do you think of the tournament here?
SAFIN: It's a Masters Series. Great tournament. I mean, even
to -- in such tough conditions, not really a big city, you
know, for Mason basically; is not Cincinnati. People are still
interested in it. It's good entertainment for them. I hope
they enjoy it. Because this tournament is here for a long
time, so it means that it's doing well. And a lot of kids.
So it's quite important. I mean, if the people still come
and still interested in tennis, it means that we're doing
Q. You had never played him before. How did you approach this
match? You must have been a little bit worried to play him
for the first time.
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, it's a little bit tough opponent to play.
No rhythm. I mean, he serves incredibly well. So I have to
be really focused and wait for opportunities because for your
So I had a chance in the first set. I had a few breakpoints.
Then in the tiebreak just you have to be focus. There always
will be one point if you will miss, or also the second serve,
then you have to take advantage of it.
But it's kind of just one, two points makes a big difference
in that match. So it was try to stay focus, try to hold my
serve, and hang in there and wait.
Q. What are you the most happy of in your game?
MARAT SAFIN: That even that I stayed quite focused. I managed
to return, I managed to have my breakpoints, quite a lot of
chances to break him even though that he was serving well.
I mean, five, six breakpoints, that's a big deal against him.
And even though I couldn't take my chances, but I was there.
That's a good sign.
Q. You had a bunch of breakpoints. We didn't see the point
that you won, you got your break in the third set. I think
he had already saved a couple. What happened?
MARAT SAFIN: Basically he made the double fault. But I don't
think so. But they called it out.
Q. You seemed to have a lot of people cheering for you out
there. Is that common for you in the early rounds, do you
MARAT SAFIN: I don't know what's common. If the people, they
enjoy it, that's great. I don't think they're just cheering
me they want me to win, they want to see also a good game.
Must be like they like me, they like my game. I'm happy for
Q. Do the fans play a part in a match for you?
MARAT SAFIN: What?
Q. Do you find the fans play a part in a match for you?
MARAT SAFIN: It's kind of good to have some support. I mean,
of course it's good. They are really into it. I heard some
people, that they were.
No, it's good to have some supporters even though that there
was a match on center court. And they were really, the people,
they were really into it. I mean, not so many of them, but,
still, they were really trying to help me and try to give
some advices and supporting me. That's good. That's good.
Q. You play with some emotion and personality, obviously.
Do you try to, to some extent, play to the fans and win them
MARAT SAFIN: Can you repeat that?
Q. Do you attempt to get the fans on your side by showing
personality on the court?
MARAT SAFIN: No, I'm not trying. I'm just trying to win the
match. That's my main goal. I mean, when you are winning,
everybody's just they like it. I mean, the people, they really
like the winners; they don't like the losers. So when you
are playing well and your main goal to win, then you are kind
of playing good tennis and feeling comfortable on the court
and you have some great shots so the people, they love it.
They always like to see some great shots. That's what it's
all about, is entertainment. Is nothing else. Entertainment,
sport. The people, they pay not just to see the boring match
and just, you know, to kill the time. They're coming here
and they want to see tennis great points, they want to see
personalties, they want to see athletes fighting and all these
things. So basically you have to give them.
Q. You've been up to No. 1, then you had some struggles and
injuries. Do you sense there are a lot of tennis fans rooting
for you to get back up there, they're cheering for you now?
MARAT SAFIN: Apart from that, also I'm doing for myself. I'm
not doing for anybody else.
It's not so easy, though, to come back and try to come back
strong and all of a sudden become No. 1 in the world. It takes
a little bit of time. I've been out for quite almost for a
So I need to get used to you need to come back, first of all,
to get the rhythm, to get the confidence back. Because sometimes
if you are injured and you are a little bit scared, also it
can break again, not just of the injury. So is little bit
more mental, mental problem. Just, you know, like you have
to get through this and you have to work harder because you
lost already one year. If you didn't play for a year, you're
losing that touch, you're losing the eye, you're losing the
feeling, you're losing most of the things of the game.
And you need to bring it back, and then you can fight for
No. 1 and try to do some great things on the court.
Q. What kind of things did you do to occupy your time during
that year? Was it hard to find something that interested you?
MARAT SAFIN: Anything except tennis (smiling). Anything.
Q. Was it hard to come up with things that interested you?
MARAT SAFIN: Believe me, there are very interesting things
in life except tennis. I mean, tennis is great. But also there
is is not the only thing in life that can a person have. And,
believe me, there is much more things than that. Tennis is
a part of your life, a major part of your life. But if you
are not playing tennis, there is plenty of things to do.
Q. Do you find motivation a little bit easier to come as you
go along the week rather than first round?
MARAT SAFIN: I mean, the motivation kills what kills motivation?
Kills if you lose in the first round, it kills the matches
that you are fighting and you are trying as hard as you can
and losing 7 6 in the third and then you are just like, you
know, 7 6, 7 6. I lost to Bjorkman , for example, in Halle
7 6 in the third. I lost in Wimbledon tough match. I had the
opportunity to win in three sets and I lost it. Then I lost
to Kiefer 7 6 in the third. So how you can find the motivation?
I mean, motivation automatically goes away. Because you are
trying and you are trying so hard that it's just killing you
So when you have the opportunity to win, then the motivation
comes back I mean, with the matches and the confidence coming
back. Once you have the confidence, you enjoy it more, tennis.
You don't struggle any more on the court. You just go there
and you play and you enjoy it because you can do things that
normally you do playing good.
Q. Therefore, as you get to the quarterfinals, it's easier
because you've got some wins?
MARAT SAFIN: Now we're talking about something. If you lose
the first round, second round, it's not interesting actually.
It's just basically you didn't achieve anything.
So if you're in the quarterfinals, it's already something
that can become something bigger. Once you have quarterfinals,
then ambitions, motivation, ambitions, they coming back. You
want to achieve more and more and more.
Q. You don't know who you're going to play, but can you say
a few words about Hewitt and about Henman.
MARAT SAFIN: I mean, it's gonna be tough match for both of
them. I mean, Henman , he can play great tennis. Hewitt is
always tough, he's always running, he's always fighting, and
he gonna be there for as many hours as he need to be there.
I mean, against Hewitt it's little bit difficult just because
he's all the time fighting, and you have to be there for 100
percent every game, every point, even though if you are winning
he can come back from out of nowhere.
With Henman , the problem is that he can serve well, he has
great volleys, and he has a very aggressive game. So you have
to be pretty focused and take your chances basically like
There's one, two points that makes a big difference. He serves
well. He improved a lot improved a lot. I mean, he can play
from the baseline, he can go to the net. I mean, the volley,
he's just one of the best now in these days. From the baseline,
he improved. He can run with you. If you're not 100 percent,
he will just he will beat you quite easy.
You played a lot of good stuff but didn't quite get the result
that you wanted. What do you think the main reasons for that
SAFIN: I didn't really felt today really good on the court.
It was quite windy for me, and the balls became very small
and they were flying, actually. I couldn't have вАСвАС couldn't
put my game out. Like I didn't feel comfortable. That's why
it was so many unforced errors.
him was okay. I mean, his type of game, it suits this weather.
I mean, he just have to put back and run. I mean, I have to
create something, and today I couldn't. I didn't feel the
grip, you know. Couldn't control the ball really well.
What was the problem with your wrist?
SAFIN: No, just was a little bit too, you know вАСвАС taped
Has that been a problem before with your wrist?
SAFIN: No, I'm just protecting it by putting all the time
the tape, just protecting my wrist.
You got a bad line call as well. Did that have much effect
on the match?
SAFIN: No, not really. But just, you know, just any opportunity
today would be great. I mean, 15вАСLove, 15вАСAll, just something,
you know. Just wait and wait and wait. It was actually mistake.
The ball was out. It was quite obvious. Not even close.
I'm not blaming him. I just want to prove my point that вАСвАС
anyway he gonna see it now on the TV, and he can see that
the ball was out. So he apologize to me. But he thought that
he was right and the ball was in. So just it was bad but just
something, you know, I mean, you never know. 15вАС30, for
me, it would be good today, some opportunity.
Do you not feel that the match just hinged, as it often does,
on one or two shots, the lob for instance that you made when
you were about to break serve, just one or two points like
SAFIN: Yeah. I mean, if will be вАСвАС if I could make a break
back and it would be a little bit вАСвАС he will be a little
bit more nervous on his serve because he knew that вАСвАС
he would know that I can break him. But then he get the confidence,
and he was serving pretty well.
It must be frustrating to play him because he's just so solid,
SAFIN: Yeah, but that's his game. I mean, the best days, like
when I'm playing well and the conditions are a little bit
better for me and I'm more feeling like more вАСвАС I have
little bit of more confidence, maybe less windy вАС I mean,
for me to play in the wind is little bit tough вАС it would
be different match. But
today for him it was a great weather, perfect conditions to
What is it like for you? Was it frustrating out there?
SAFIN: Not frustrating. But just, you know, like I couldn't
finish the points and the balls are flying. So when I couldn't
have the grip from the backhand, from the forehand, just a
little bit uncomfortable on the court. But that's it, just
small things here and there that creates whole different picture.
Despite that, you don't look far away from the top group.
Do you feel that, and what would it take to get there?
MARAT SAFIN: I'm not focusing on the ranking, I mean, how
far I am, how many points I have, and what I have to do to
be in Houston and all this actually bullshit story. Just is
not most important thing for me. Just get back to вАСвАС get
the confidence and hold the confidence for as long as I can.
And just once I will get this, stay there for as long as you
can and then squeeze everything what you can from this, you
know, from the confidence. And then if I'm playing well, the
points will come. I will not be struggling, you know, being
7th, being 8th, being 10th or we're going to talk about different
numbers already. That's my goal. I mean, once I will start
to play well, confidence, and then big tournaments is coming
вАС US Open , we have Olympics still, we have points there.
Then we have two Masters Series in Paris and then Madrid .
Do you sense there are a lot of people, spectators, media,
who actually want you to do that because you're good for the
SAFIN: Thank you. I'm
also trying. I'm trying. Is not so easy. Is really it's just
very complicated. It looks very easy from out of the court.
It looks simple, but it's not. It's just day by day вАС work,
difficult times, not playing well, not feeling the ball, struggling,
mental problems that you have no confidence and this kind
of things. When
you can pull everything together, then you gonna have the
results. But you need to work. It's day by day. But it's not
really вАСвАС is not easy. It's just difficult to explain
to the people how tough it is because they really think it's
just you go there, you play your best tennis, that's it. That's
how you gain points and confidence.
Do you feel like you're going in the right direction, though,
you're getting closer?
SAFIN: Yeah, I'm working hard. I'm trying and I really want.
Once you have motivation, once you want to do it, it's just
a matter of just waiting for opportunity. Opportunities will
come. It's not the last opportunity that I am having to get
into semifinals or winning a tournament. There's still a lot
of вАСвАС plenty of months to play. And
once I will have this вАС and I'm sure I will вАС there is
no chance that you cannot have chances. Take it, and then
the confidence will grow, points will come, and the game will
improve and the result will come.