PARIS (AFP) Russian former world number one Marat Safin has bid farewell to the game of tennis after falling to defeat against Juan Martin Del Potro in the second round of the ATP Paris Masters. The talented but temperamental 29-year-old star had already announced his retirement from the sport and bowed out before an adoring French public that had previously seen him triumph in the tournament on three occasions. Ill go with the flow, Safin said when asked about his future after his 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 defeat on Wednesday. Now I have no schedule, no practices, no nothing. I belong to myself. What will I miss? Being out on the court and competing. But at the same time its a tough sport. Its very cruel. I definitely wont miss the injuries and the pressure. The pressure that you are going through continuously throughout all these years. Stress 24/7. This is what I hated. In soccer or hockey or basketball you sign a contract and no matter how you play, you make your money. In tennis you can go from top 10 to 150. Its a very tough living. Once the sports leading man, injury and ebbing motivation have reduced Safin to the role of intriguing support act in recent years but he has left an indelible mark on the mens game. His often-volatile 12-year career peaked with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 over Pete Sampras in the 2000 US Open final, taking his first Grand Slam crown two months before ascending to the top of the rankings throne. Safin played his first Slam at the 1998 French Open and won his first ATP title at Boston in 1999. He added the Australian Open, the last of 15 career crowns, to his haul at the third attempt in 2005 after having lost the 2002 and 2004 finals. But whether it was smashing more than 700 racquets or the dreams of rivals, Safin was always entertaining - mercurial at times, witty, grumpy and typically a formidable big server who quit the game as he played it, on his own terms. He began playing tennis at the age of six with his father Misha, who directed a Moscow racquet club. His mother Rausa coached him until he was 13 and also helped guide his sister Dinara, who is now the womens world number two. Sometimes its not easy to understand my brother, Safina admits. Others have labelled him an under-achiever in comparison with Andre Agassi, Roger Federer or Sampras - prodding the lionheart to roar in response. In the history of tennis, every single player is an under-achiever, Safin said. Agassi should have been winning 15 Grand Slams. Sampras should have been winning 20 Grand Slams. Federer should be winning 25 already. Everybody could do better. I should probably have won a couple of more, but Im pretty satisfied with what I did. Injuries hampered Safins hopes at times. Torn left wrist ligaments and a sore right shoulder ruined his 2003 season. A left knee injury in late 2005 kept him from defending his Australian Open title. I was a little bit unlucky with my injuries. Thats the only thing that I regret, he said. I made a couple of great comebacks but eventually the knee injury was really tough to come back from. It took quite a long time to play without any pain. Safins year-long good-bye tour has been bittersweet. He reached the third round at the Australian Open, the second round at the French Open but lost his openers at the US Open and Wimbledon. Grass, he often said, would be better used as cattle feed. Id like to be remembered as a decent player, he said. Nobody ever complained about me and I never complained about anybody. Im not writing a book though, no chance. My secrets and memories will stay with me. Marat Safin factfile Date of birth: January 27, 1980 Birthplace: Moscow, Russia Residence: Monte Carlo, Monaco Height: 193cm Weight: 88kg Plays: Right-handed Turned pro: 1997 Current world ranking: 65 Highest world ranking: 1 Career singles titles: 15 Career Grand Slam titles: 2 (2000 US Open, 2005 Australian Open) Career record: 422-267 Career prize money: 14,350,709 US dollars