No longer it seems is former world no.1 Marat Safin the man who wants to leave tennis behind and discover other adventures in life. Barely eight months into a retirement he craved for so long the charismatic but often frustrating Muscovite is shaping up as the heir apparent to long time Russian tennis tsar Shamil Tarpischev. Within weeks of laying down his competitive racket on the ATP World Tour at Paris Bercy last October, the 30 year-old was back playing exhibition matches before appearing on Jim Courier’s Champion’s Tour. In December, he was elected to Russia’s Olympic committee and he has also played an increasingly more important role in
Safin is also doing a large amount of representational work for the Russian Tennis Federation, under the watchful tutelage of the 62 year-old Tarpischev who has been chief coach and captain of all tennis teams first from the Soviet Union and then Russia for 36 years. Just before the turn of the century Tarpischev was appointed President of the Russian Tennis Federation.
After initially declaring he wanted to break away from the tennis circuit, Safin was in attendance at the Masters 1000 event in Madrid (bankrolled by his former mentor Ion Tiriac and co-run by his agent Gerard Tsobanian) as well as the French Open and Wimbledon. His role was to attract more top flight players to the Kremlin Cup tour event played in Moscow October 18 thru 24. “I have to run around and be nice to everybody,” declared the notoriously rebellious former US and Australian Open champion.
Although Safin’s name does not appear on the tournament’s list of former champions, there have only been four non-Russian male winners since Yevgeny Kafelnikov began a run of five straight titles in 1997 and now there is a desire to form a more world class field.
Russian opinion maintains that Safin will soon succeed Tarpischev’s son Amir as Tournament Director of the Moscow event that became the first professional tennis tournament in Russia when founded 20 years ago by Swiss businessman Sasson Kakshouri in collaboration with the vastly respected American Eugene L.Scott . “We need to make it more interesting,” said Safin of the combined event that was won last year by Mikhail Youzhny and Francesca Schiavone. “Lately we’ve struggled with the tennis players. The people in Russia want to see a little bit more the good quality players.”