Net Gains: Surly Safin still has a mountain to climb when he calls it quits

Almost everywhere he has played this year, Marat Safin has been asked the same question. What will he do after he retires at the end of the season? The Russian talks mysteriously about "a couple of projects" but refuses to go into detail.

Might he coach? "No, no. Playing is one thing and teaching is completely different. It looks simple but it's really not. It's a really tough job." TV commentating? "I'm different to other people who want to lay back and do nothing for the rest of their lives and talk nonsense on ESPN, talking about my match against Sampras. I will not do that."

Russian Davis Cup captain? "There is a person already in the job and I don't think it will come up in the next five or 10 years. We'll keep that for later."

Painting? "You're crazy. I'd rather play tennis than be a painter. Trust me." Working for the Association of Tennis Professionals, whose coffers he has filled over the years with fines?

"It might not be a full-time job, but if it was something interesting I would do it. But I definitely won't be running into an office and asking for help."

Novak Djokovic, nevertheless, may have let the cat out of the bag. "I talked to Marat," said Djokovic. "He said he wants to go mountain climbing. I think somewhere in Argentina in January."

The Serb's comments were put to Safin, who spent 10 days in the Himalayas two years ago climbing Cho Oyu, the world's sixth-highest mountain.

"Djokovic has the breaking news, eh?" Safin said with a smile. "He should keep his mind on his tennis rather than my private life."

Has Laura a tweetheart?

Having lost in the final round of qualifying for the women's singles last weekend, Laura Robson has spent the last few days preparing for this week's junior tournament. It should also have provided a chance to catch up with some social networking.

"I love Twitter," Robson said. "It's so addictive. You spend hours on it. It's terrible. It's such a time waster, but I've been following people. Tom Daley tweeted me the other day."

Polansky's not so dozey

Peter Polansky, who lost to Guillermo Garcia Lopez here, always requests hotel rooms on lower floors. A sleepwalker, the Canadian counts himself lucky to be playing tennis at all after an incident in Mexico three years ago. During a nightmare he kicked his way through the glass of his third-storey hotel room window before landing in a shrub in the courtyard below. He needed a five-hour operation and 400 stitches to save his left leg and spent the next two months in a wheelchair.

Marine in the line of fire

Neil McCaffrey served in the Marines in Vietnam, which is probably just as well given his job manning one of the CBS on-court cameras. McCaffrey's camera is in the corner, which means he is directly in the firing line of the big servers. He reckons on getting hit about 40 times over the fortnight. "Somebody said I should dress like a baseball catcher," he said. "But I try to blend in and not call attention to myself."

p.newman@independent.co.uk

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