Former World No. 1 Marat Safin looks back at his Davis Cup career, which began with a baptism of fire against USA in 1998.
Safin, who had only ever seen the likes of Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras playing on television suddenly found himself facing these superstars as he made his Davis Cup debut, which would give the young Russian the belief to go on to become the best in the world.
"I had the worst experience probably of my life in ’98 when I played against the States," recalled Safin. "I was 18 years old, I was about 200 in the world, [it was the] first time that I played Davis Cup, I lost easy to [Andre] Agassi and I was pretty depressed. Then I almost beat [Jim] Courier and it gave me the inspiration to break through."
Safin would go on to win the Davis Cup with Russia in 2002 and 2006. The latter will hold a special place in the Russians heart for the fact that he won the decisive rubber on home soil.
"It was at the end of my career and I had to play the last match of a Davis Cup Final," he said. "They wanted to play Tursunov and said ‘Listen I want to play, it’s my home crowd, I feel like I have a chance’. I took it and I feel pretty proud.
"It was twice as difficult for me as another guy because I had a lot of pressure with the people and I really wanted to win and it was the difficult years of my career so for me it was a perfect surprise and a big relief."
We will be posting another Davis Cup Idol for the next three weeks in the run-up to the World Group semifinals and play-offs.