Alongside Roger Federer, Safin is possibly one of only two players capable of winning all four Grand Slam titles.
World ranking: 20
French Open best:
2001: 3rd round
As yet, he has only bagged one, blowing apart Pete Sampras' game in the 2000 US Open final.
Since then, things have not gone according to plan.
His temperament and desire have come into question, and 2003 was a year to forget as a serious wrist injury, as well as stomach and ankle problems, all contributed to him losing his place in the world's top 20.
But in January, he returned to form in scintillating fashion at the Australian Open, beating Andy Roddick and Andre Agassi in successive matches to reach the final where he was too drained to cope with an inspired Roger Federer.
After an unspectacular hard-court season in the US, Safin enjoyed an impressive start on the European clay, reaching the final in Estoril and the semi-finals at the Monte Carlo Masters.
However, in typical Safin style, he hinted he might not even play at the French Open after losing in the third round of the Hamburg Masters to Juergen Melzer.
The engaging Russian would be sorely missed at Roland Garros - especially as he has the talent and the clay-court acumen to lift his second Grand Slam title.