Safin fans, the countdown begins. Marat Safin has announced that the Paris Masters in November will be the last tournament of his pro career, meaning that we have fewer than 300 days to enjoy his awesomeness (i.e. shirtlessness) on a week-in, week-out basis. He’s won Bercy three times in his career, making it one of his favorites.
Safin spoke quite a bit about his future plans to the press yesterday, following his three set loss to Richard Gasquet in Dubai. He says he’s open to “anything,” as long as it’s a “project,” but has so far ruled out coaching, commentating and the seniors tour (although he hinted that replacing Shamil Tarpischev as Davis Cup captain would be a future goal.) Oh Marat, quit faking – we all know that your plans have not extended past a semi-permanent beach vacation. Anyway, here are some choice words from the press conference (the guy gives great quote):
Q. And all things being equal, the last (tournament will be), what, Moscow? Bercy?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, we’ll have to see. Paris, we’ll have to make it the last tournament in Paris, a tournament where I play the best tennis and where I won the Davis Cup. So I would say I would love to say bye-bye there.
Q. Are you going to keep more motivated when you know it’s the end, or is it tough?
MARAT SAFIN: No, I’m motivated. I’m just not working out. And I’m trying to keep my body in shape. Looking forward for some good results throughout the year. I think that it’s much easier to do something great when you are less stressed and less — you have less expectations on yourself. So I think it will be a little bit easier, but just to get the confidence back, and maybe just a few lucky points and I can change. I don’t think that overall, I’m tired. I’m satisfied with the way I’m moving, but unfortunately sometimes wrong decisions.
Q. What things will you miss from the tennis tour, and what things won’t you miss?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, just the thing of being on the court and having the spectators watching you play and when you’re playing a great match and enjoying it. And also some moments when you’re playing terrible tennis and nothing is going your way, it’s sad to be on court, especially when you know that you are playing bad and you cannot do anything about it. So just a lot of stress on one hand. And on the other hand is some great matches that you are going to forget.
Q. You’re still only 29, but do you think that there’s an outside chance we could see you on the oldies tour?
MARAT SAFIN: I would love to play seniors, but just, it’s enough. I had a very good ride. Although I had been unlucky with injuries and should have done better than I did. And every time I played well, I got injured, so, what can I do? That’s life. And it’s just a part of — it’s just the beginning of the life, and there is another life coming after tennis. I think it’s just everybody should try something new.
Q. And what is that, business?
MARAT SAFIN: Anything. I’m open to anything, to any possibilities, but of course it has to be projects. I’m not jumping in something when there is no base. . .
Q. Would you be happy to stay in tennis, or are you looking outside, as well?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, of course I will try to do something with tennis. I would love to, but just it has to slow come up to something interesting and to do something in Russian, of course, if I can be useful for ATP in some way, maybe not a full-time job, but something interesting, yeah, I will do, but definitely not running into the offices and crying for help and all of these things. (Laughter) That’s not the way. . .
Q. Do you see yourself as a coach?
MARAT SAFIN: No, no. Playing is one thing and teaching is completely different. It looks simple but it’s really not. It’s a really tough job.
Q. Have you done any TV in Russia?
MARAT SAFIN: Oh, no. I can’t — I will not do commentating, that’s for sure. I will try — there are plenty of people who do that and they are doing pretty good job, so I don’t want to interfere on this when they are enjoying it.
Q. Do you think you could mark your farewell year with a tournament success?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, of course, but I have to agree with all of the players and make it happen. (Laughter) But unfortunately a lot of people are very ambitious and I don’t think it will happen.
Q. But that would be a final ambition of yours?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, why not? A nice farewell bye-bye, and, well, just win the tournament and just a present for me; I give away the prize money of course to everybody, but I would love to do that.
Q. Do you have your coach with you this time?
MARAT SAFIN: No, no, saving some money. Crisis, you know (Laughter).
Q. You won the Grand Slam against Kafelnikov; do you think you have underachieved or perhaps could you have done better?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, everybody is asking the same question, and of course, Federer should have won already 20 Grand Slams and of course Sampras should have won another five, six. I guess I should have won, instead of eight, how many, I should have won 14. Basically speculation; what happens if something will go in different directions. And of course if, if, if, we would not be in a crisis like we have a problem all over the world right now. So it’s just speculations, and of course, I wish I could have more, but as I said, was injured and every time I played well when I was injured and I can’t complain. Also where I’m coming from, I could have end up doing something completely different and I would not be sitting here and talking about this.
Q. Tarpischev can’t be Davis Cup captain forever, can he?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, there’s a person that shouldn’t be even considering being seated on the bench. There is a person already and I think it will not happen in the next five, ten years, that’s for sure so. We are going to keep it for later (smiling).
Until Shamil taps out, I’m hoping Marat goes Hollywood and stars in a Russian spin-off of the James Bond series (he could definitely take Daniel Craig, easy.) No, I haven’t put much thought into this. . .
In other retirement news, Joachim “Pim Pim” Johansson is making a comeback after shoulder surgery cut his career short, and oldie-but-goodie Ivan Ljubicic is contemplating throwing in the towel if his results remain lack luster.
Photos: AFP/Marwan Naamani/Getty Images