Safin Reflects On Playing Days, NextGen Stars
The candid Russian discusses his past and present careers
Marat Safin called it a day on November 11, 2009. After falling to Juan Martin del Potro in the second round of the BNP Paribas Masters, the Russian decided to retire from the ATP World Tour and put an end to a brilliant career.
Safin reached the top of the Emirates ATP Rankings in November 2000, won the 2000 US Open and 2005 Australian Open, and lifted another 13 ATP World Tour titles during his career. He also placed a pivotal role in helping Russia win the Davis Cup in 2002 and 2006. Although some tennis experts believe he could have achieved even more, Safin still believes he gave the sport everything he could.
“I don’t regret anything,” said Safin. “I had many injuries throughout my career, but that was something out of my control. I’m very proud of my results. It was a really interesting, intense part of my life. I learned a lot, became more mature, saw the world and met many people. The overall experience was positive."
When his pro tennis career came to a close, Safin was left to ponder what to do next. But while some players choose to move right into coaching or other areas in the tennis world, he fittingly decided to take the road less traveled. In December 2011, the former World No. 1 arrived to the world of politics after being elected to play a role in the Duma, the Russian Parliament.
“I wanted to try different things. I finished my law studies and having a seat in the Parliament was on my mind. I was only 30 years old, so I was young enough to keep learning,” said Safin. “Life is different there. It didn’t matter if I was No. 1 or won Grand Slam titles. I had to start from zero and be eager to learn. You need to know how the system works and give your opinion. But over time, people start listening to you and they let you work.”
But Safin still keeps a close eye on tennis. He believes the sport is changing in a positive way and is impressed by what he sees in the new crop of #NextGen players.
"The guys are playing a different style of tennis now and are much more aggressive, which is really interesting. They are great athletes and stronger than in my generation,” said Safin. “The game has evolved and it’s interesting to see how the players do things now that were out of our reach.”
Although the Russian admitted he may not join his peers like Carlos Moya in coaching a top player in the near future, the outspoken Safin is always willing to impart advice to the NextGen of tennis.
“A lot of your success depends on whether or not you’re open to criticism. Not many people are willing to hear those tough words,” said Safin. “But it’s important to be humble and listen to your team. You need to hear the truth, even if it hurts.”