Safin won't change his smashing approach

January 15, 2001

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)

Russia's Marat Safin has no intention of curbing his emotional on-court outbursts -- even if others suggest his tantrums can give opponents a psychological edge.
"Sorry, but I was No. 1 in the world. Who wants to tell me (to change)?'' Safin said Monday after his first-round 6-4, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) victory over Galo Blanco of Spain.
"I don't understand why everybody is trying to tell me that it is bad for me,'' Safin said. "I've been doing this since I was a kid.''
The 20-year-old Russian has earned a reputation for smashing rackets.
"How can I change my character, it is me. I'm doing well -- even breaking 50 rackets. I mean, I was No. 1 in the world for two weeks, that means something.''
After being fined $2,000 for tanking his match at last year's Australian Open, Safin went on to beat Pete Sampras in straight sets to clinch the U.S. Open and finished the year No. 2 in the ATP Champions race.
He said he was disappointed to finish behind Gustavo Kuerten, but was confident he could go do better this year.
"I have enough game, I have enough power. I have everything to win a grandslam tournament,'' he said.
Marat Safin appears eager to redeem himself for an embarrassing effort at last year's Australian Open, and eager to contend for a No. 1 ranking he came so close to claiming last year.
One year after getting fined for tanking a first-round loss here, the reigning U.S. Open champion from Russia began his bid for a second straight Grand Slam title with a gutsy 6-4, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) first-round win over Spain's Galo Blanco.
Nursing a sore right elbow, Safin managed to fire 11 aces but committed 59 unforced errors and lost his serve three times in the nearly three-hour battle. He prevented any further damage to the elbow by eking out the fourth-set tiebreaker.
"The elbow is injured. For the moment it is OK," Safin said. "I can serve and I'm really satisfied. I hope I will serve like this during the two weeks."
Seeded second, Safin rebounded from his humiliating effort in Melbourne last year to win an ATP-high seven titles and come within a match of becoming the youngest season-ending No. 1 player.
"It's like in every sport, you want to be the best," Safin said. "I wanted to be the best, but I made some stupid mistakes at the Masters (Cup) and that's why I'm No. 2. This year I hope that I will be more clever and I'm going to make all things the right way. I'm still fighting for No. 1 and I hope to for a few more years."

courtesy Yahoo!