Marat Safin has been a breath of fresh air for tennis. At the peak of his powers, he was a revelation.
When he beat Pete Sampras at the 2000 US Open final he absolutely destroyed Sampras when he was at his peak. It was perhaps the finest tennis performance of the past 10 years. There have been better matches, it was so one sided, but the way he demolished Sampras was phenomenal.
And then the Australian Open semi-final against Federer was quite amazing. It was the best match I've ever seen. It was better than all the Wimbledon finals that people have been saying are the best matches of all time.
It is probably appropriate that he is bowing out in Paris, having won there three times, and he does enjoy it there. Possibly he enjoys it too much. He is a man who lives life to the full and after the US victory, he went off the rails a little bit.
I met him at the 2002 Australian Open and he turned up with the most exotic girlfriends in his box and he lost, he seemed to get tired against Johannsson. He came into the press conference and smiled and sais 'sorry, I've been unprofessional. Everyone knew what he meant and that kinds of honesty is great.
But he has not been that good to himself and his record could have been so much better.
I understand he has made fortunes and invested his money very well and he is an extremely wealthy man. His record could have been better had he been more professional but then you would have lost some of the magic that is Safin which is so unpredictable and why we love him.
He lost his focus but got it back a couple of years ago and made a real effort to get himself fit and I am surprised that he has not achieved more in the last couple of years. I thought he would go out with a bit more of a bang than he has.
The problem is I think he wanted it too much and come crucial points he ahs not been able to hack it.
- Pete Sampras
- Marat Safin