Marat Safin beat Jose Acasuso 6-4, 6-2 in the first round of the China Open. And it’s a good thing he did, or the streets of Beijing would be flooded with tears and awash in heartbreak. Marat Mania has hit Beijing. Big Time:
The one above is my favorite because of its hope that Marat will marry “us.” If you’re going to make a banner, why not reach for the impossible? Don’t just marry me, Marat – marry my best friend, my mom, my mom’s best friend and my gay uncle, too!
And this one’s great, for its fan-nerd reference to Marat’s mountaineering exploits:
Good thing the girls in white are so cute and happy, otherwise this one would be a little creepy-culty:
Some more examples of the Safin Sensation that’s sweeping the nation:
This is what Marat had to say about all the attention in his post match presser:
Q: For the first match in the morning, there were a lot of fans cheering for you. It’s not your first time to play in China, so when did you realize you are so popular in China? Are the fans in China different from the other part of the world?
SAFIN: I was surprised when I arrived at the airport. I was surprised; I didn’t realize until now. But it’s a nice feeling. It’s nice to see people coming so early with flags and cheering for you. Of course, they look very excited to see me, Nadal and a lot of other players. They are waiting at the hotel for us. I didn’t know I would be such a huge success. They are very loyal fans. They came with flags and signs, so it’s very nice.
He also had this funny-yet-insightful (and oh-so-Safin) comment on tennis retirement:
Q: Most people retire when they are in their 50s or 60s. Do you find it a little odd that someone is retiring at 29?
SAFIN: Well, I was 4 when I started, so it was still 25 years. So, it’s the same thing as other people when they retire at 50. They started when they’re 25 and retire when they’re 50. So basically, we do the same thing. It’s more than enough to just take a rest.
Marat confirmed his final schedule: Shanghai, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Paris. So now we have one reason to hope that this season drags on forever. . .
And in the spirit of enjoy-it-while-you-still-can, here are a few shots of the Safin Sensation himself:
Photos via OSports. Check out more Marat photos here.