Getting to know Roman Safiullin | TBEN | Tennis

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Roman Safiullin recalls his early days playing tennis on a two-court facility just next to an ice hockey arena. His father, Rishat, was the head coach.

“I was there with the rackets practicing in the small group. Hitting the wall,” Safiullin told ATPTour.com. “[There were] often of this kind.”

Growing up, Safiullin played some football and swam, but devoted 80 percent of his time to tennis.

“I was happy to play tennis and especially when I was growing up. Then school started, so you had to choose one thing,” said Safiullin. “When you go, you go to school or you play tennis. So I chose tennis and I’m still here.”

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Safiullin started taking tennis seriously from the age of 12, when practice changed. “Since then I’ve already started a kind of professional career,” he said.

The 25-year-old is ranked No. 97 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, nine spots of his career high. He hopes to move up the ranks, starting with his first-round Australian Open match against lucky loser Denis Kudla, who was placed in the draw when Nick Kyrgios withdrew due to injury.

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What does Safiullin like to do off the pitch?

“When I have free time to just go somewhere with my wife. She chooses a number of restaurants or places to visit, like now in Melbourne,’ Safiullin said. “[During the offseason] we went to germany and then we flew to bali for vacation. And then we actually went back to Europe from Bali and started [the] preseason.”

It was the second time they visited Bali, Indonesia.

“It’s a nice place. That’s why we actually came back and it’s really nice,” said Safiullin. “We were lucky with the weather. It wasn’t as hot as we expected and it rained sometimes.”

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Many eyes will be on Safiullin as he tries to make his mark in the first major of the season. The three-time ATP Challenger Tour title list wants fans to know that he gives it his all.

“I would just like to say that I am trying to be a top professional player,” said Safiullin. “It’s not affecting my ranking at the moment, but I’m trying and doing my best to win.”