LONDON Marat Safin said he was already booked on a flight home on Wednesday evening but was happy to be sticking around at Wimbledon after demolishing third seed Novak Djokovic in the second round.
The enigmatic 28-year-old Monte Carlo-based Russian rolled back the years with some breathtaking tennis to record a 6-4 7-6 6-2 victory.
"There is a flight at 8.30 leaving every evening, so I was almost there," Safin told reporters after a surprisingly one-sided match on Centre Court.
"You play against (Djokovic), and the last time I won two matches in a row was... I don't remember when. So what do you expect? Of course you are not really in a position to look at anything after the second round.
"I didn't play great for a long time. I don't even remember how it feels. It was a long time ago I played like that and I hope I can get better."
When Safin thrashed Pete Sampras to win the U.S. Open in 2000 and topped the rankings soon afterwards he looked ready to dominate men's tennis.
Eight years later and despite a resurgence in 2005 when he won the Australian Open, his ranking is down at 75 and this season has been dismal, until now.
With a third round meeting with Italian Andreas Seppi, a repetition of his run to the last eight in 2001 is a possibility, although Safin is still far from content at Wimbledon.
"The strawberries are too expensive. It's true. They don't have enough for dessert. It's true. Only the coach is allowed to come in the locker room is also true," Safin said when asked if he had warmed to the grasscourt grand slam.
Whatever he thinks about the prices he was clearly relieved to rediscover some form after a depressing slide.
"I started to get a little bit desperate because I've been working really hard week after week, practicing and putting myself together," he said.
"When the results are not coming you need to be really strong mentally to continue to play this game."
Safin will get a day off on Thursday when he hopes to watch Russia face Spain in their Euro 2008 semi-final.
"I'm trying to keep up with them," he said. "The guys are surprising me in soccer. I never expected them to play such a great, aggressive, unbelievable game. Now we're the favorites to win the European Championship."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Clare Lovell)