Paris - Marat Safin is finding it more and more painful to play tennis but the good news is that he probably just has to do it for one more match.
The former world number one, playing his final tournament at the Paris Masters, saved three match points to squeeze past French qualifier Thierry Ascione on Monday.
Russian Safin, who held the top ranking for several weeks in 2000 and 2001 and was once regarded as the world's most spectacular player, now faces US Open champion Juan Martin del Porto and was the first to acknowledge his chances were thin.
"At the end of the day, I don't think I'm going to be the winner," the 29-year-old Safin told reporters.
The rise of Roger Federer, then Rafael Nadal, and a string of injuries meant the hugely talented but erratic Safin, who has not won a tournament since the 2005 Australian Open, could not really live up to high expectations.
Now he says he has had enough.
"The closer the end is, the tougher it gets," he said. "The second part of the year was really heavy. I didn't want to leave the house, fly somewhere and be out of my home for three, four weeks. Picking up the bags, going to the airport, staying in traffic, passport control, waiting for the bags again, it was getting really heavy."
Safin acknowledged he was not trying very hard in training.
"The second half of the year, I didn't do much, basically," he said. "I have no fitness coach travelling with me, so it's just matches."
Still a crowd favourite at the Paris Bercy hall, where he lifted the trophy three times, Safin has low ambitions this year and does not really mind.
"The years before I was aiming to get as close as possible to the final and to earn some points," he said. "Right now I don't really care."
Asked if he would emulate fellow former world number one Andre Agassi and come up with a book full of revelations, Safin said: "I guess I have to retire and then after a few years I'll write an autobiography with some confessions. If I need money, I'll do that."