Safin confident of strong showing
Twelve months ago, Marat Safin arrived at the Australian Open with his confidence at an all-time low and his world ranking down at 86.
So his rivals were stunned when he knocked out Andy Roddick and Andre Agassi on his way to the Open final.
Now number four in the world, Safin is one of those fancied to wrest the title from world number one Roger Federer this time.
Safin endured a mid-season slump last year but fought back to end 2004 with back-to-back Masters Series titles in Madrid and Paris.
Not even defeats in his three matches at the Hopman Cup in Perth last week could dampen his enthusiasm for his return to Melbourne Park next Monday.
"It's normal, I've just started my year," Safin said of the losses. "It's not possible to play at the same level (now), as I had just finished my year.
"At the end of last year I was playing some of my best tennis (ever). I was probably in my best shape ever, but it takes time to get that back again.
The 24-year-old Safin looked understandably rusty in Perth, having arrived only on the eve of Russia's first match after staying in Moscow to accept an award from the Russian government.