I’m a huge tennis fan and to tell you the truth, my tennis begins with Federer and mostly ends with him. This may be true today but I was initiated into tennis by a player named Marat Safin.
I started watching tennis way back in 2003 and at that time there was no Federer legacy to follow. There was this Russian and to be more inquisitive, a Russian Muslim and he was happening with his macho swagger, pulled-back collars, careless yet powerful shots, emotive tennis, verbal altercations with chair umpires, mooning, thrashing of rackets and everything that Federer doesn’t relate to, at least, not as of now.
I remember “cultivating” my hair long after watching his long mane bunned up during Davis Cup which Russia won that same year.
Marat won two Grand Slams and one could guess this guy was going to add a lot of GS to his name. But he lost track somewhere in the middle and lost his focus, his ambitions and eventually the tennis he was building up. His anger on court was palpable but his continuance with it wasn’t. In simple words, he was an emotional wreck as someone who will break rackets at will. I don’t think anyone else comes close to him in racket-thrashing feat! He must have lost a lot of his earnings on penalties!
Yesterday he lost to Juan DelPo in 2nd round of Paris Masters, an event he has won thrice and Federer hasn’t even got one yet! But I guess he is happy to leave tennis and go back to lead a “tourless” life and watch movies (he is a huge cinephile like me!!!) where he doesn’t have to complain about the exorbitant price of food in England or be brutally honest about the way he felt of things around him. He never minced words like most sportspersons do.
I was happy when I came to know that Marat Safin was scheduled to participate in Mumbai Open in ’07 but pulled back due to some injury. But am glad today that he is leaving tennis for good. I hope he gets what he wants from life and even show up in Guest Box to cheer Dinara Safina because he never does that as most others do.
He will always be remember as the “quintessential underachiever” and he is leaving a bit too early at 29 though a bit too easy. Will surely miss you, Marat. Thank you for keeping us glued to that racket for we never knew what would happen to it!!!!!