Russian tennis ace Nikolay Davydenko is considering following Marat Safin into Russian politics after his sporting career comes to an end.
Davydenko, a 31-year-old veteran of the tour with nearly 14 seasons in pro tennis, believes he has one or two years left at the top of the game, after which he sees politics as the only viable career path.
“If they invite me into politics, I’ll go into politics,” Davydenko told R-Sport after losing to Roger Federer in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Championships Thursday.
“I’m not sure, of course, because politics is not exactly straightforward. You need to move in the right direction, where to go, what to do. But if the interest is there, I would go into it,” he said.
Davydenko pointed to his longtime mentor and former world No.1 Safin as an example.
Safin, who retired in 2009, was elected to the lower house of parliament in 2011, representing the Nizhny Novgorod region for President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party.
“Safin is doing well. He’s advancing, progressing. After tennis, he entered politics in the right way. We meet up pretty often, have a chat, he’s doing great. He hasn’t lost touch with us, he gets in contact quite a lot, I’ve been quite surprised,” Davydenko said.
Were the seemingly natural progression into the Russian tennis federation a possibility as a future career path, Davydenko said he might have been tempted.
“In Moscow it’s really hard to stay in sport,” he said.
“There it’s easier to go into business or into politics. Because sport, tennis, at the moment is not really progressing. Everyone is firmly rooted to their spot and it’s very tough to budge someone from their place. Pretty much impossible, in fact, so it’s best not to touch them. I don’t think that any of our players want to stay in tennis. It’s hard to do something with the federation.”
But the Moscow-born player, who has racked up more that $15 million in career prize money, insists he still has the necessary drive to win a 22nd career title.
“I have no specific aims, I just want more titles. Winning any tournament is very prestigious… I’ve won 21 titles and I want to win more.”
Many Russian sports stars have entered the world of politics after retiring, with several joining United Russia.
They include former WBA heavyweight boxing champion Nikolai Valuev, former rhythmic gymnast Alina Kabaeva and, albeit briefly, 2006 Olympic figure skating champion Yevgeny Plushenko.