gives girls the flick
January 6 2003
The giant world No 3 from Russia will have fewer distractions
in the stands than he did last summer, reports Jessica Halloran.
There will be no "beautiful bench". The blondes,
with plunging necklines, the trio who adorned the Australian
Open stands last year, had nothing to do with Mr Marat Safin.
Revelation No 1: they were not part of his entourage. There's
no such thing as a "Safinette".
"Let's put it this way, I have nothing to do with these
ladies. I'm not going to explain, but I have nothing to do
with that, I swear to God," Safin said firmly.
"They were friends of my friends that asked me to get
them tickets . . . I got them tickets, it's not a problem."
Revelation No 2: "They are not my types." Safin
said this with a little grin - but he meant it. What is his
type? "My type? Not this type."
And don't expect a new, authorised bench this summer. "Just
myself - coach, doctor," he said.
No blondes, even though Safin clearly stated at the open
in Melbourne last summer: "You have to admit I have an
unbelievably beautiful bench." Not that they have anything
to do with the giant Russian.
Safin's skin was a patchwork of sunburn yesterday after he
practised on Rebound Ace. But his -30C Russian tan should
soon disappear under the Sydney sun.
After working with five different coaches in the previous
three seasons, Safin is back in Sydney with Denis Golovanov,
whom he appointed last November. Golovanov is an "old
friend" Safin grew up with.
"I make a deal with him for one year and let's see if
we can do some great things this year," said the 22-year-old
who is ranked No 3 in the world and is the top seed at the
adidas International at Homebush Bay this week.
"It's difficult to find a guy who can coach and travel
with you all the time and you can trust. I know him really
well. I don't know if it's the right decision - a bad decision
or a good decision - but it's a decision I made because I
couldn't find any other guy I trust."
Safin would love nothing more than to win a grand slam event
and be No 1 in the world.
"That's my goal [to get both], it's too much maybe,
but that's the draw, we live because of the dreams."
But to achieve this "dream" he said some glitches
in his game must be fixed - glitches he describes as "not
a tennis thing" but a "mental thing".
"Sometimes my concentration just goes away in the game
and it's difficult to [get it to] come back," he said.
"That's why sometimes I'm suffering. I understand this.
I know what I have to do but it's really, really tough to
bring myself to this level.
"I'm trying and I'm trying, and I'm growing up. I'll
be 23 soon and I'm hoping I'll manage to bring this level
to my game."
Safin said even though Lleyton Hewitt had shown less than
stellar form at the Hopman Cup last week, the world No 1 would
still be a real threat at the Australian Open.
Safin believes it's "more important not to play real
well before a big tournament" because some players wear
"It's better to start slowly and win a couple of matches,"
Safin was also philosophising about his life at yesterday's
press conference. Softly spoken with his gentle hand gestures,
he said his life was all about living for the moment.
"This is the best time . . . enjoy every moment of your
life, every day and not regret afterwards," he said.
"It's really important to enjoy what you are doing, enjoy
the way you are living because time is running really fast,
every year faster and faster and your best times are when
you are young."