Safin, by his friend


Here is the translation of the article taken from the French sport Newspaper "L'equipe".
translated by Josee.
article by Louis Doucet

Marat Safin, elusive and mysterious, is not only the smashing racket man we see on courts. When we listen to his friends, his inconsistency and his impulsivity are also a way of life. A way to put his international tennis star status in perspective. His manager, Gerard Tsobodian, his ex-coach Marc Rosset and one of his friend Arnaud Casagrande, expresses their feelings about Marat Safin's personality, in which they see appearing a slavic soul (l'ame slave).

Gerard Tsobodian: �He doesn't even want to plan his day�.

Marat's temperament is easy to tame?

I'm in a great position with that aspect because I have collaborate for 10 years with Goran Ivanisevic. When a character like Marat comes along, it's a feeling of deja vu and I'm able to manage it. Especially as they are boys who are totally different on the court and in their private life. They are a lot less crazy and unpredictable. The key was to understand the situation they are in and sometimes, to put myself in their place. They are young people who comes from countries where conditions were not easy when they grew up. That explains a lot about their impulsions, their needs, their desires. In my opinion,this is one charactristic of the slavic soul. They have hot blood and sometimes, they hit the wall and after, they realize that we had warned them.

When it comes to business and money, is he very directive?

He has total faith in me but he likes to be inform and he should be. Even though he doesn't want to go through details, I make him realized that it's his money, he has worked hard to earn it and that's important for him to understand all that. Because when he will retire, he will have to manage his life and his money.
Is it the kind of questions he's asking you about?

Yes and recently, he asked me about different possibilities that could be presented to him in the future. Earnings from stock market are not what they used to be. So he asked me : �Gerard, which investments are you and Ion Tiriac are suggesting me, which alternatives I have?�

Is Ion Tiriac a model for Safin?

I think he's a model for a lot of tennis player. He has a good reputation because he has made his mark on the sport, after bringing Boris Becker to the top but also on business, especially in Romania. Every time Marat or other players talk to me about him, it's � What does he do? How much money he makes? �

Safin looks like he put his career in the second place...

I think it's a way for him to be professional. It's mostly a way to take off pressure. He avoids to talk about concrete subjets like � which tournament you want to play next year or how to reach the number one position in the world �. Of course, he's ambitious and he wants to play tennis but he doesn't want anything that resemble a career plan. He doesn't even want to plan his day!

Marc Rosset: � I was like him at his age �.

Is it more easy to be Safin's friend or Safin's coach?

Friend. But anyway, you have to be his friend to work with him. Besides,that goes for a lot of players. To go through all year with somebody, it's almost essential to count on that friendship. Marat is calm, reserved and discreet. He's not always open with everybody, which maybe gives him a recluse side. But his explosion and smashed rackets are normal. Frustration builds up from match and tournament and when you are a little bit impulsive, inevitably there are excesses.

In training, what kind of student he is?

Mostly, he has to believe in what we are telling him. He won't do anything he doesn't want to do. He has opinions and a strong personality which he rely on. When you become famous, everybody wants to give you advice, to get involve in your life and to tell you what to do. But, at 21, you need to make your own proof, to build your own experiences. Personally, I was like him at that age.

Recently, did you talk with him about Davis Cup?

He dislike talking about tennis, he's not a tennis fan and neither am I. He has a lot of interests, he likes to read a lot. So, when we step out of the court, we talk about other things. If I compare him to other players I know, Federer for example is much more in love with tennis than Safin out of the court.

Arnaud Casagrande: � He needs those up and down �.

Marat Safin's character is always as turbulent as it is on the court?

For me, Marat is a �circuit friend�. He lives his life between Moscow and Geneva and me, I live in Paris. But when we are in tournaments, we spend a lot of time together. He's an interesting and engaging character because he's at the same time �head or tails�. He can give everything when he likes somebody, be very generous and do everything for this person. But in the same time, he's 21 years old, he has lots of money and enjoy partying. So, he's not always serious. It's normal, he wants to enjoy his life.

Is it uncommon to enjoy having parties in tennis world?

No. There is a night life on the tour. We are not in bed at 9 h 30 watching a late nignt show on TV5! But Marat is able to sleep late before the day of his match as long as he can get up late. He can move forward his day like that. It's another philosophy and I like it. It's very rare that he loose a match because he is tired from a late night out. The risk is more about his mental fatigue... to blow fuses. When he's irritated, he really is.

Instead of this, he has an engaging side that seems to make unaminity...

It's his russian side. I know 4 or 5 russian and they are a lot like him. When you become part of their circle, they are really with you, there is an immediate trust. It doesn't matter that I take care of Nico, the competition doesn't exist anymore. The state of mind is: � You're a friend. Period. � It's really honest.

Does he brood during difficult periods?

He asked himself a lot of questions and this is why his off-peak periods can last a long time. But he needs those up and down. He makes them work for him, more that a linear journey would do. Everybody has different objective. For him, it's to enjoy his life because he knows that he only has one.

Does he often talk about Davis Cup?

No, he takes one thing at a time. Of course, this competition has a special meaning for him. It's important and close to his heart and mostly for Kafelnikov. But Marat is a true professionnal. But I didn't start any conversation with him about Davis Cup, even since we know that this final will take place. He never talked about it once.