Marat Safin, the man who lived a thousand-fold life

The man who has lived a thousand times over.

In the careers of tennis players there are opponents, courts, tournaments that are cursed or benevolent; that reveal the gaps or, on the contrary, improve skills. There are therefore situations that change reality, or rather, cancel it. In the world perhaps, but certainly in tennis, there is a God with a non-trivial sense of irony who actually interrupts the dull flow of events and embellishes it with a divine flash. There is nothing earthly about Marat Safin and in the course of his career the hand of God rested on his head twice.

Two very important options for those who want to earn a place in the Olympus of the tennis gods: in Australia, a Melbourneand in America, a new Yorkthe city where the two most important tournaments in the world take place on the fast surface of concrete.

The fact that Marat won two Slam tournaments should not be seen as something outstanding – he was an immense talent – but rather the fact that he did it against the home favorites both times. When he won the US Open in his early twenties, Safin has Pete Sampras on the other side of the net, the last tennis player of the 20th century that the sport remembers: one-handed backhand and always attacking the net. Fancy attacks, varied serves, long volleys that land on the line: poetry for those who have remained connected to these seasons.

Safin destroys Sampras in three sets: 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. Once the American wakes up from his nightmare, he will say that during the game he didn't know where to shoot, that Safin took every ball away from him and that he felt like he was being pierced from all sides. Overtaking Sampras was no joke. It happened, of course, that anyone could hit a good shot, but doing it consistently and breaking serve three times in a row was considered an impossible feat at home, if Agassi was to be believed.

“This phenomenon played tennis that I didn't know, he overwhelmed me, he did whatever he wanted to me, in a way that I hadn't imagined, like that.” I wouldn't have thought it possible».

Pete Sampras on Marat Safin

The second time around we find ourselves in the Land of the Kangaroos, a place of conquest by the great Dutch and European traders tout court, transformed from an open-air prison for the outcasts of Western society in the family dispenser from magazines for housewives. Australia has a double face and in January 2005, at the final of the Australian Open, Janus was played by Lleyton Hewittwho achieved public acclaim after being number one in the world for 90 weeks (reaching the top in his early twenties).

He's determined to finish this final to win his third Slam after Wimbledon and the US Open, but there will be no escape for the leathery blonde after this the illusion of the first sentence. He will lose in front of 4 million viewers.

Sampras and Hewitt have one thing in common: They met the wrong man in their house at the wrong time. But this historical fact can be viewed from a different angle […]

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