"It's too much pressure ... If I was the type of person who had tennis, tennis, tennis all the time and I went to bed and ended up dreaming about tennis, I would go nuts." - Safin
Attributes: Like Philippoussis, Safin was 6'4", a big server, and had heavy groundies. Unlike The Scud, Safin moved well and his every backhand reverberated with the crisp sound of a ball that had found the racket's sweet spot.
When he arrived on the scene in the late-90s, he appeared to be the game's most natural athlete ever, and he showed that in his 2000 season, in which he won the US Open, captured six other titles, and came within one match of finishing the year No. 1.
At the Open, he became the first player to give Pete Sampras the Sampras treatment, meaning he turned The Pistol into an onlooker powerless to stop the barrage of winners.
After a stay in the wilderness, he returned to the elites in 2005, outdueling the seemingly invincible Roger Federer in the Australian Open.
On-court problems: Like so many on this list, Safin has struggled with those who refuse to fuel his need for pace. The tricky Frenchman Fabrice Santoro knows this especially well, having beaten the towering Russian seven of nine times through his patented two-handed slice forehand.
In recent years, Safin has also succumbed to another common complaint here, which is injury. His knee has ached perpetually since 2005, which was the last year he won an ATP title.
Off-court problems: The biggest problem for Safin, though, has always been desire. This is belied by his tendency toward racket breaking and audible obscenity while losing, but Safin was, after all, one of the first players to be fined for lack of effort.
His lazy loss in the 2002 AO final, his befuddling months-long periods without a match win, and his almost gleeful kiss off toward Wimbledon at this year's event point toward a trend: Safin doesn't mind winning, but doesn't find it essential.
Perhaps this is because, unlike Sampras, Safin was not groomed to be the best player of his era. Sure he hasn't won as much as he could've, but from that perspective two Grand Slams and $14 million in career earnings by age 30 isn't bad either.
Fate: Safin has announced that this will be his last year on tour. A lot can happen between now and November, but as of this week his 2009 record is 6-12.
Lessons learned: Learn to hate losing, and learn it early.