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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday January 2, 2020

Marat Safin

Marat Safin hopes that an ATP Cup title for Russia will make his nation forget about ice hockey for a while.

Photo Source: Paul Kane/Getty Images

Marat Safin retired more than a decade ago, but the Russian is still a revered figure in the sport and a big draw in any city that he visits. Fans will get to see (and experience) the two-time major champion close up at the ATP cup as he captains a powerhouse Russian team that features two Top 20 players in Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov.

Safin who is joined by fellow ATP legends Boris Becker, Gaston Gaudio, Lleyton Hewitt and Thomas Muster in the ATP Cup coaching ranks as the event kicks off this week, believes that his players have a chance to help overthrow tennis’ Big 3 and, while he’s a big fan of the legends of the sport, he hopes the ATP’s generation next can force them out of the equation at some point.

"This group of three - Roger, Rafa, and Djokovic - is something unique in tennis that has never happened," Safin said ahead of this week’s ATP Cup. "They are incredible, especially Roger. I wish them to play a little bit longer, but I also wish to the young ones to retire them earlier."

Welcome to Brisbane, @TheBorisBecker.

Safin believes that his role will be a minimal one, and he is aware that both of his top players will need to rely on their personal coaches over the course of the competition, which begins on Friday night in Perth for Russia.

“The captain has to respect the coaches of each player, we’ll work together,” Safin told reporters at media hour at Perth on Thursday. “Not everything will be on my back, but the coaches know better than me and the effect on the player’s performance. I don’t want to interfere too much, because it might not have the right effect. I want them to be themselves, because everyone has their own character, and do the best they can.”

Becker, Hewitt, Gaudio and Muster will likely take a similar approach but it will be interesting to see how Becker gets along with Alexander Zverev now that the heralded German no longer works with Ivan Lendl. Could steps toward a future commitment be taken at the ATP Cup? Time will tell.

Becker’s Germany team will face Australia in Friday’s night session against Hewitt's Aussies in Brisbane. Muster’s Austrian team will face Croatia on Saturday in Sydney and Gaudio's Argentinian's will face Poland in Sydney on Saturday.

Medvedev and Khachanov will go against an Italian team that features Fabio Fognini.

Win or lose, the ATP Cup will benefit from having a trio of highly decorated coaches in the mix. Safin, for one, is hoping that his Russian team can make some serious waves.

“We’ve been here a few days and we’re ready to play. Russia is into tennis with Daniil and Karen doing well right now,” he said, according to “But we want to move ice hockey from top spot and make Russians proud.”


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