Australian Open - January 14, 2002 Melbourne, Australia
Marat Safin - Raemon Sluiter (NED) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 .
An interview with: MARAT SAFIN

MODERATOR: Questions for Marat.

Q. How was that out there today?

MARAT SAFIN: Tough. First match, you know, big tournament, third match of the year, so you're kind of nervous and you try to win in straight sets. You have a tough opponent. The guy can play great tennis. He beat Hewitt in Stockholm.
But was okay, you know. Just I lost a little bit my concentration on second set, that's why I lost. But I knew what I have to do, and I came back. I think I played great third and fourth set - good enough to win.

Q. How do you feel with your shoulder? Do you feel it's going to come through okay?

MARAT SAFIN: I'm taking care of it. I'm taking some antiinflammatories, Vioxx. But it's okay. The pain is going away. It's much better, much better. Like next match I think will be perfect then.

Q. Have you thought anything about last year?

MARAT SAFIN: Last year is the history already. It was one year ago. The time is running. Is another chance, another year, another tournament. Just I would like to do the same thing. It's difficult because another year. You are not playing the same tennis. The other people are not playing the same tennis. The situation is difficult.
But I'll be there. I'm still in the draw. I think I still have a great potential to do well here, and we'll see if I will be able to make it. Because other people, they also know how to play tennis.
But I want to do well here, definitely. I will give all my best. I will try my best. It doesn't matter if I will play my great tennis, if I will play bad, but I will be there, I will be tough and I will give trouble to everybody, that's for sure. Then if I will win or I will lose, then it's just we'll see on the court.

Q. What was the biggest celebration or most enjoyable celebration after winning the Davis Cup?

MARAT SAFIN: It's tough. It's tough to celebrate straightaway because even we went out to the club, and from 12:00 that we got into the club until I think 3:00, I was signing autographs, so I didn't have any chance to celebrate at all. I was making pictures, I was doing everything, but definitely not taking care of myself.

Q. Were you signing autographs for pretty girls?

MARAT SAFIN: No, pretty boys I was signing.

Q. The court is supposed to be faster this year. Firstly, do you agree? Secondly, how much does that help you in winning the title?

MARAT SAFIN: It is definitely faster. Of course, the bounce is a little bit lower. It's good for my game. It's good for me. I'm really far from winning this tournament still. First I have to pass the first week. First it's difficult to pass the first round. Then you have to pass to the second week. Then, of course, is a matter of luck, just if you get your game, if you get your best shape, and then you can see.
I will tell you if I have opportunity to win the tournament in the second week if I get there. Then I will see my chances, see if I'm playing great tennis or not, see how the other players are playing.
But I'm sure I can do well. I'm sure. I hope also. I hope so.
But it's good. It's good. The courts are -- I think for my game, they're really good.

Q. Are you surprised that Larsson is giving Hewitt a lot of problems?

MARAT SAFIN: He beat me last year, Larsson -- sorry, two years ago. He's a great player. He's I think one of the most talented players on tour. He's from old generation. He beat Sampras in Masters -- not the Masters, in Grand Slam Cup, in Munich there was a tournament, in the finals. It means he's a great player. He can give some trouble. He can be dangerous.
Again, he have a good serve, good forehand, he can also play backhand, great volley. But for some reasons he didn't do well, didn't give his best to the tennis. I felt for me he was one of the best players on the world, definitely. He could be, I think, easily No. 1, but for some reasons he couldn't make it.

Q. Do you think Yevgeny, who said he was going to retire, you get upset, you try so hard to win the Davis Cup for him, then he says, "I'm going to keep playing"?

MARAT SAFIN: That is the question is everybody asking me, even the players. I think, my opinion, he just said that he wants to retire, but then he realized that what he's going to do after he will retired. For example, he's not playing any more tennis. What he has to do in Moscow, Russia, whatever country he is living in?
It's difficult to find this new job or new thing, you know, to discover a new thing in your life because you have to change your life completely. You've been playing tennis since you are six, and suddenly you just want to change something. You need to prepare yourself. You need to see what you like, what you don't like, what you want to do, what you feel like doing. And then, of course, slowly you can leave tennis.
But he has nothing to do. You know, the guy has been playing for tennis and he didn't prepare himself for the life after tennis. Of course, he found himself just he doesn't know what to do. So is the best thing to play tennis and try to prepare yourself for next life. I think he still can play few years, two years for sure. He's 29. Let's see how he's doing.