Former World No.1s Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin were the latest guests on the Tennis United show where they spoke about the competition between them as well as the current Russian generation of players.
Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin on the competition on the tour between the Russian players
The two Russians did play on the tour together though Kafelnikov was six years senior to him.
Speaking on the show, the 46 year old Kafelnikov says, "When I became a Top 10 player, Marat was six years younger than me and he wanted to catch up to me, so we had healthy competition between each other and one was driven by another.
We've got three guys who are in the Top 20 [now] and all three are competing with each other. That's the reason why tennis in Russia is very successful at the moment." Safin, who was the captain of the Russian team at the ATP Cup in January, also spoke on similar lines on Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov, who are all inside the world's Top 15 currently.
"It’s a healthy competition because they are still friends. They go out for dinner together. They are very nice guys, which is good. They are ready to learn, which is also good”. The duo also spoke about their favourite memories from their professional careers.
Kafelnikov said that winning the Grand Slams and becoming World No. 1 were most memorable for him while Safin says that his wins at the Grand Slams were also very special to him, "One is obviously the US Open. The second one is beating Federer in the semi-finals of the Australian Open and then winning Australia.
The first one was unexpected and the second one was the workable one. I had a few attempts and it didn’t work for me… Finally, I managed it”. Yevgeny Kafelnikov won two Grand Slam singles titles, the 1996 French Open and the 1999 Australian Open, and a gold medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
He also won four Grand Slam doubles titles, and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2019. Marat Safin won at the 2000 US Open and the 2005 Australian Open, and also helped Russia to Davis Cup victories in 2002 and 2006. In 2016, he became the first Russian tennis player inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.