Safin surprised by Djokovic success

Former World Number One Marat Safin said he was surprised by the progress Novak Djokovic had made during his career, suggesting that the overall standard of tennis is not was it used to be during the early 2000s.

Safin had only played against Djokovic twice before the end of his career and he won both matches. While he has acknowledged that the Serbian has tremendous talent, he admits that he did not think Djokovic would collect the grand slam haul which he has at this stage in his career.

Safin's first encounter against Djokovic was at the 2005 Australian Open, when Djokovic was still a teenager.

"I played with Djokovic at the Australian Open when he was younger. It was clear that he had talent and that he could become strong but I didn't expect him to win 10 grand slams," Safin told Tennis World.

"But now winning a grand slam it's easier than the past. Novak is complete, focused and works hard. He surprises us for the way he wins," added Safin.

Safin, who is now a politician in Russia, said there were more quality tennis players from his generation, adding that it was significantly harder for him to achieve some of the things that he would like to have done during his career.

"I could have earned more but at that time there were more quality players. In top 20 there were big names: Ivanisevic, Krajicek, Sampras, Agassi, Kuerten, Norman, Kafelnikov," added Safin. 

"The level was higher than today. Now there are only four or five players who dominate. The rest is far away," he said.

Despite his criticism of the current standard of men's tennis, Safin does admit that the contribution made to the game by Roger Federer cannot be discounted.

"Federer is the most talented player of all time, no doubt about it. He's a complete player: he has so many arms, he can do what he wants with the ball. Unfortunately we don't have his talent," said Safin.