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2005 Jan 31 - Safin on Wimbledon

Marat Safin - fresh from his Australian Open victory - has played down the prospect of ever winning a Wimbledon title.

The reason is very simple, he isn't as comfortable playing on grass as he is on clay or hardcourts.

Marat said:

"I'll play, but with no expectations. I feel like I can't waste my time, my energy on that surface.

"Some people, they cannot play on clay. Some people, they cannot play on a hard court. Me, I can't play on grass."

The Russian master already a multiple Grand Slam champion, having notched up his first at the US Open in 2000 with the crushing defeat of Pete Sampras 6-4 6-3 6-3.

He added:

"It's a relief for me. Two grand slams, it's already something. But with this one I worked really hard for it.

"Basically, I would love to win a couple more. I think I have a chance if I continue this way.

"If (coach) Peter Lundgren will stick around with me and wants to work with me for a bit longer, I think I can make it."

Despite the epic win against Pete Sampras to claim the US Open title in 2000 doubts started to creep in over his ability to win further major honours - and this thought became even more poignant as he lost in two Australian Open finals in 2002 and 2004.

Marat added:

"I didn't expect that (to win the 2000 US Open). It was against Sampras, I wasn't the favourite so I had no pressure whatsoever.

"After the first final that I didn't win against Thomas Johansson (Australian Open 2002), I couldn't see myself winning the Grand Slams anymore.

"I was once in the semi-finals of the French Open, but I didn't believe I can win it.

"I just couldn't handle the pressure. You need to believe in yourself, and I didn't."

The doubts crept in again in the Australian Open final after he dropped the first set but this time the charismatic Russian found a way to win.

He said:

"I am 25. I'm playing against Hewitt. At least you have to have the opportunity to win it, at least have a chance.

"It's like you go there and you lose first set 6-1, then you start to think: 'This is not my day. The way I'm playing is ridiculous.'

"But then you start to really be a little bit more selfish and try to find a way out of there.

"And I found it. I was like really much I was much happier than in 2000, that's for sure, because I get over it."

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