PARIS - Russian former world No 1 Marat Safin has bid farewell to the game of tennis after his defeat by Juan Martin Del Potro in the second round of the ATP Paris Masters.
The talented but temperamental 29-year-old star had already announced his retirement from the sport and bowed out before an adoring French public that had previously seen him triumph in the tournament on three occasions.
"I'll go with the flow," Safin said when asked about his future after Del Potro's 6-4 5-7 6-4 victory yesterday.
"Now I have no schedule, no practices, no nothing. I belong to myself. What will I miss? Being out on the court and competing. But it's a tough sport. It's very cruel. I definitely won't miss the injuries and the pressure. Stress 24/7.
"In soccer or hockey or basketball you sign a contract and no matter how you play, you make your money. In tennis you can go from top 10 to 150. It's a very tough living."
His often volatile 12-year career peaked with a 6-4 6-3 6-3 victory over Pete Sampras in the 2000 US Open final, taking his first Grand Slam crown two months before ascending to the top of the rankings throne.
Safin played his first Slam at the 1998 French Open and won his first ATP title at Boston in 1999.
Some have labelled him an underachiever in comparison to Andre Agassi, Roger Federer or Sampras - prodding the lionheart to roar in response.
"In the history of tennis, every single player is an underachiever," Safin said. - Sapa-AFP