7 November 2001
by Denise

Well the tennis year of 2001 for Marat is over. Sad for us his fans as we love to watch him and always want his playing to go on and on. But for Marat it was best. The season was not good - there were injuries and he did make some crazy decisions to play on because of Bonuses but we all have to learn by experience and I guess he learned that this year. Why do people think you are whining when you make an honest statement? Seems honesty is not always appreciated by the blood sucking media � after all what are they going to use to sell their articles?

So what can I reflect on what I have seen this year?

First of all Paris. Well to tell you the honest truth - to take a leaf out of Marat�s book � the season is too long. My general impression was that the majority of the players were really tired. They looked it and the results speak for themselves. How often do you find so many top seeded players going out so early? And for some the season is not over yet. Masters Cup still to come and for some - French and Australian � Davis Cup Final. How fresh is Lleyton Hewitt going to be in January? I believe he is playing Hopman Cup this year and then will he defend his title in Sydney? Could he be a casualty next year the way Marat was this year? Then I know Grosjean was thrilled to make the Masters Cup � but how tired will he be for Davis Cup Final? Will France think he is so great if he fails at the Davis Cup because he is overtired? He is their darling now having been the first Frenchman to win Paris since 1991.
These are just a couple of players � as Sjeng Schalken said � I am glad the season is over � now I can take my vacation. We know Marat�s words � I was dead out there and he was. He said himself � I never played such BAD tennis.� The court didn�t help � three times this year he has been insulted by the organisers (that I know of) � Wimbledon the reference to �thankyou that I should finally get to Centre Court to play Goran� � US Open the defending champion doesn�t get to play on Centre Court � gets sidelined to smaller courts and then Bercy � Court 1 was a disaster for the players � for the small amount of public that could get in it was great being so close but how come the defending champion played on this court. So he wasn�t in the best of shape and hadn�t had a great season but I don�t ever remember seeing Agassi or Sampras treated that way. Court 1 � a converted icerink was cold, dark, and the surface was totally different to Centre Court. The funny thing was on the Thursday of the match Marat left for practice at 12.30 with Mats � we left for the stadium to make sure we got seats in Court 1 and apparently 10 minutes after we left Marat was back. Did that mean he didn�t get to practice on Court 1 � but Guga was practicing there when we arrived. Seemed an awful lot of bias if you ask me. What has Marat done to deserve all this? In the eyes of his fans he is fantastic � he is good to them and always takes the time when asked for photos, autographs whatever � others couldn�t be bothered and I have seen them and they are well known top players too. But somehow his PR is lacking when it comes to the tournament organizers. This is something he needs to address � the time has come for him to actually ensure that he has a permanent PR � Managers and Management groups are not trained in this aspect and although Marat is excellent at PR himself he doesn�t have time to organize all the little details himself. So when he talks about organizing the year ahead I hope that is one aspect he will address.

So back to my relections. Paris is a great city despite the fact that I suffered an amazing theft of the racquet � seems France has a problem these days � namely Marat�s loss in Lyon. Seems he was not alone even the President of France was robbed in Lyon. Bercy is a great stadium but could do with a big clean up. The restaurants and pavement bistros are great. The hotels are very near to the stadium which makes it easy to get to the tournament. It was great going to the Players Hotel and meeting lots of other fans � ones that couldn�t afford to go to the tennis but were prepared to stand outside for hours just to see Marat and take a photo with him. I loved meeting all the fans and that has been a wonderful part of all the tourneys I have attended this year. I have learned to recognize how Marat operates � he is definitely not a �morning� person � before twelve noon he is not very with it! He loves good clothes for those who are interested and these details are courtesy of Ilaria who is very observant � when Marat left in that beautiful Mercedes dark blue (azurite blue I believe is the correct term) he was wearing the following : dark blue T Shirt, black V necked sweater, Lovely soft black leather jacket � nappa leather � obviously a favourite as it was well worn - black Boss Jeans, black Prada shoes and went he bent over the boot to kindly get the pass for the fan who asked � grey Calvin Klein underwear! So now you know. Very good taste and something I have definitely noticed along the way at all the tourneys I have seen this year.

And so I saw Marat in Dubai � a very big thrill as my first, at Queens, Wimbledon, LA, Indianapolis (probably my favourite as I got to go in the lounge where the players ate and saw Marat so close) then Stuttgart where I stayed at the players hotel and that was a great thrill even though I only saw Marat briefly and Paris where I saw Marat and his car and being so casual and so good to his fans. And above all I met so many wonderful fans and made a lot of new friends and that has been the best part � we come from all over the world but we have one thing in common - Marat Safin � long may it continue.

So to 2002 � where will I go to? I don�t know at this moment but have requests to be at Rome and Monte Carlo and Roland Garros and Indian Wells and Indianapolis again and I want to go back to Dubai and to Bercy and will Stuttgart still have the Masters next year or will it go to Madrid? Whatever or wherever I see him play again � I know that Marat will give me the thrill that he always does. It has been a joy watching you Marat and one I hope to continue enjoying for a long long time!