Why Marat Safin will never be a great player
Posted by Sports Snob on September 8, 2006
Just when you thought he was back again, he goes out and loses a five-setter to Tommy Haas. No offence to Haas but he isn’t really a player that will give the Federer or the Nadal a sleepless night; but then it seems Safin won’t either!
Safin burst onto the scene with a stunning victory over Sampras in the 2000 US Open. And six years down the line, we are still searching for that player. Anybody who could make Sampras look like a novice in a grand slam final is, no doubt, precociously talented but then talent alone does not do the trick.
At the highest levels, to be recognized is one thing to be remembered is quite another. Talent gains recognition, temperament makes one a champion. This is the reason why Sampras, Schumacher, Tiger Woods, Sachin are talked about synonymously with their respective sports. Safin will play the occasional stunning tennis and then come out the next day and get beaten by a player like me! Yes, he brings a human element that can be appreciated and all that jazz but then so did McEnroe and that never deterred him from winning.
So, what does Safin need to do? I don’t know if there is anything he can do. He has been around long enough to learn and adapt. He has failed.
Serena and Venus
The biggest disappointment in women’s tennis! These two had such prodigious talent, power and natural athletic skills that between them, they could have broken every record in women’s tennis. I must admit that I didn’t really like them when I first saw them play. They just seemed to be hitting it more powerfully than the rest (it seems prettier when Sharapova hits that powerfully, doesn’t it?). But what I overlooked was the natural athletic skill they possessed. What happened then? Acting, fashion, interior designing robbed us of two wonderful tennis players. Nobody, ever, can wake up one fine day, come out on court and expect to win.
They seem satisfied with what they have achieved. Have you ever heard Schumacher say anything about being happy with the number of grand prix victories, a Sampras saying after five Wimbledon titles that he had had enough? To be great requires an insatiable thirst for competition and victory. These two don’t have seem to have that (and if they do, it can’t be achieved by playing just one tournament before a grand slam).
Safin, Venus and Serena have so much talent that it is a pity to see how their careers have gone. Players with much lesser talent – a Courier- have achieved more than what their talent would have allowed. To be great you need temperament and drive as much as you need talent. These three have failed; they have disappointed me and fans world over, I am sure. Their careers are not over yet but will they come back and prove me wrong? I sorely wish they do but I doubt it.
PS: Ironic, Venus Williams won the US Open Women’s singles in 2000.
Venus and Serena have won quite a few titles but not as many as they could have (should have?).