Safin reveals heartache behind failure


03 January 2001

Marat Safin has revealed the heartache behind his failure to become the youngest ever world number one.

But the 20-year-old Russian insists he will bounce back in swift fashion this season - starting with this month's Australian Open.

Moscow-born Safin held top spot in the Champions Race going into the last week of the ATP Tour last month.

But at the year-ending Masters Cup in Lisbon, his defeat to Andre Agassi in the semi-finals - coupled with Gustavo Kuerten's triumph in the final - left Safin an agonising 15 points behind the Brazilian.

"I cannot lie - I was very sad because it is the most important thing in my life," the world number two said.

"You are fighting so hard throughout the year, you are No.1, but then suddenly just a few points make the difference in the last week.

"You start to think, yes, a real chance to finish No.1. Then the other guy (Agassi) comes out and plays his best tennis.

"That is how it works, but it is tough to take and it has taken me a while to get over it.

"Unfortunately, I was too tired in Lisbon, because I played for two weeks in a row, so, of course, I was not in my best shape.

"But what can I do? I still have a few years more. I cannot do anything. I have to cry a little more."

Safin said he had not had enough time off between the Lisbon tournament and the start of his new 2001 campaign.

He believed his 100-match schedule last year had been too heavy and he planned to shorten it this year.

Last year, he did not win a Tour match for the first two months, and in March even considered quitting the game

"When you cannot remember how to win a match, it is worrying," he said.

"But I made some changes in my life and my approach to the job, and it came good.

"I don't want to have to go through that again. That is why I am really determined to do well at the start of this season and do well at the Australian Open.

"Hopefully I can spread my matches out over the course of the year. I need to spend more time with my family and enjoy this life."