“Either You Are in Top Five or Nowhere”: Marat Safin Reflects on the Harsh Reality of Tennis

Published 11/29/2020, 7:17 AM EST
MONACO, MONACO – OCTOBER 23: Russian politician and retired tennis player Marat Safin attends the SPORTEL Monaco 2017 at the Grimaldi Forum on October 23, 2017 in Monaco, Monaco. (Photo by Olivier Anrigo/Getty Images)

Tennis legend Marat Safin was one of the most flashy players during his time. The big Russian was quite a character, often known for his emotional outbursts and blazing temper. Whenever he stepped on the court, fans would expect some kind of drama. Marat was also known to be outspoken. 

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The former World No. 1 also has a sister, Dinara Safina. Both of them were ranked as the world’s best players (World No. 1), which was the first time that a pair of siblings held the top rankings in men’s and women’s tennis, respectively.

Safin was an exceptional player, winning two Grand Slams. He won the US Open in 2000 and the Australian Open in 2005. He eventually retired in 2009.

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Marat Safin: “No Point if You Can’t Challenge Top Players”

Recently, while speaking on his retirement, he said, “Either you are in the top five, or nowhere. I didn’t want to play the 11th, 12th, 20th ranked. Either everything or nothing. Poking around with children on some kind of courts, getting tired, and running around with a sore knee is just discrediting oneself. As one literate person said: “It’s better to leave sports than sports leave you.”

Tennis – ATP Finals – The O2, London, Britain – November 16, 2020 General view during the group stage match between Germany’s Alexander Zverev and Russia’s Daniil Medvedev Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

Throughout his career, Marat was troubled by injuries. In 2003, he missed a major part of the season due to a wrist injury. Later in 2005, his results took a hit as he injured his knee. 

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Speaking more on his troubles with his knee, Marat said, “If my knee didn’t fly, I might have played for a few more years, but it’s not a fact. I was already tired of all this, I got bored, I outgrew tennis, burned out. I had no motivation, I began to lose to unknown people. If you can’t beat Nadal, Djokovic, Federer, then what to do there.” 

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Marat Safin had quite a successful career as a player and carried the sport forward. He won two Grand Slam titles and 15 titles on the ATP circuit.

Post-retirement, the Russian has been part of the Russian Tennis Federation. He even joined politics and is a member of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party.

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Rohan Kollare

1671 articles

Rohan Kollare is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. Rohan has a post-graduate diploma in Sports Management and a trophy cabinet adorned with accolades won in district and state-level tennis competitions. He has previously worked in Content Operations for Disney’s Hotstar for over a year, covering tennis and Formula One.

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