dismisses surface tension
By Andrew Warshaw at Queen's Club.
Tuesday, 12 June, 2001
Some players build their whole season around the grass of Wimbledon.
Others, like world number two Marat Safin, simply give it a
shot and let fate take over.
Unlike Brazil's Gustavo Kuerten, who has opted to stay away
from Wimbledon, the golden boy of Russian tennis isn't afraid
to display his talents on a surface that is totally alien to
Despite being brought up on clay in Moscow, Safin, now based
in Monte Carlo, is clearly out to destroy more than a few grass-roots
reputations at the All England club in a couple of weeks' time.
It's really difficult to start again on grass because you can
lose your timing, especially at the end of the week," said
Safin on Tuesday after squeezing narrowly into the second round
at Queen's via a second-set tiebreaker.
"I'm not expecting to still be there at the end of the
second week at Wimbledon."
"Having said that, Andre Agassi did it, then got to the
final again a couple of years ago. And what about Borg? It's
difficult, of course, but I'd love to do it.
"I know HOW to play on grass but to actually do it is different."
Safin has had a sensational year by any standards. Last year,
he won seven ATP titles - more than any other player - and finished
2000 as the youngest world number two since Boris Becker 14
Still only 21, he is learning quickly what's like to face up
to defeat when you don't feel like talking to anyone.
At the French Open last month, Safin snubbed the international
media after losing in five sets to Fabrice Santoro in the third
round and took the opportunity on Tuesday to apologise for his
"These things just happen, I'm a human being. I couldn't
talk and just felt so bad," he said.
He certainly appeared to have put that disappointment behind
him when he beat a seasoned grass-court player, Jens Knippschild
of Germany, on Tuesday.
Afterwards, he paid tribute to his new coach Mats Wilander,
the former world number one who, in his day, was one of the
game's cleverest tacticians and is now giving Safin the benefit
of his knowledge.
"It's very easy to learn from him," said Safin. "The
most important thing about a coach is to trust him and I trust