Back in 2000, the 20-year-old Moscow native Marat Safin was world no. 1 and the winner of eight ATP titles, including the US Open and two Masters 1000 crowns. The upcoming youngster enjoyed a stellar season that he almost finished as the year-end no.
1 (Gustavo Kuerten passed him with that thrilling run at the Masters Cup in Lisbon), never finding that form again and claiming only seven titles by the end of a career, retiring from tennis in Paris 2009. In the last ten years, Safin often stayed far away from our sport, delivering some exciting interviews here and there and visiting tournaments where he loved to play, like Paris Masters.
Now, Marat is getting ready to embrace a new role, appointed as the captain of the Russian ATP Cup squad that should fight for the title in Sydney with Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov in the team. Safin is excited about the new competition and returning to Australia where he claimed his last title at the Australian Open 2005, hoping to lead his guys all the way despite a tough group with Italy, United States and Norway.
Confident in the abilities of world no. 5, Safin thinks Daniil Medvedev can become world no. 1 in the future as the second Russian player after him, especially if he makes small corrections in his game. "Russia is coming back strong and I'm happy to be part of this group.
Hopefully they will do a great job during preseason with their own coaches and then maybe I can be useful for them during the ATP Cup and yeah, looking forward to my new job. I believe Medvedev can be number one in the world.
All-around game, we just need to work on the certain small things that, which is, I'm sure that his coach, he knows what to do and I wish him the best to start the year well by winning the ATP Cup."