Team Safin a motley crew

January 25, 2002

TEAM Safin yesterday topped off a preparation for today's Australian Open semi-final against Tommy Haas in its probable swansong tournament as a fun-loving gang of four.

The latest incarnation of Marat Safin's ever-changing coaching and training team has made him as relaxed off court and potent on court as he has ever been at a Grand Slam tournament.

Three men, Amit Naor, Roberto Brogin and Anatoly Glebov, all wear Open accreditation tags which say "coach, Marat Safin" and made themselves busy at a leisurely 45-minute hitting session yesterday.
Just to deepen the confusion over who runs the Safin show, Russia's Open men's favourite has been evasive in press conferences in Melbourne about his future plans with his coach of 2001, former world No1 Mats Wilander.

Team Safin attracted attention when a bevy of blonde supporters joined his three-man team in the stands for his rollicking fourth round win over Pete Sampras, prompting Safin to declare his pride in his "unbelievably beautiful bench".

Brogin said Naor, a former Israeli player who reached a ranking just outside the top 100, had started employment as Safin's full-time coach last month after having been Wilander's assistant.
"I'm part time as his assistant and Anatoly is Marat's doctor and masseur. Next week, I go back to Milan to start a (coaching) relationship with a new player (Italian) Federico Luzzi," said Brogin, an Italian who started working with Safin last September.

"His tennis is almost complete. He needs people around him who give him motivation and makes the ambience aorund him quite relaxed.

"I thought his win over Sampras was one of his best matches, even better than his US Open win. We are a team, all of us."

Brogin said Safin likes to live life like any 21-year-old.
"He likes to go to restaurants and likes to speak to girls. But Marat makes noise if he goes to the discotheque," he said.

Safin, who won his only match against Haas in the past 18 months at the 2000 French Open after losing their first two encounters, had a light afternoon gymnasium session before he bids for his second Grand Slam final.
"If Marat plays his best game, I don't believe we don't have to move пїЅ right and left пїЅ his game because of Tommy Haas," Brogin said.

Like Safin, Haas has hired more coaches than Scocer Australia in his time, but has excelled since July under David Ayme, an experienced coach from Florida who has worked with the German on and off for seven years.
Asked if he understood how the Safin coaching set-up worked, Ayme said: "No, But whatever works for the individual player, works."