Home Tennis Fabrice Santoro’s love story with Roland Garros

Fabrice Santoro’s love story with Roland Garros

by archysport

Winner of the junior tournament in 1989, Fabrice Santoro had a great love affair afterwards with the Paris tournament. He never won it in singles, but gave the spectators a lot of emotions. Especially during the longest match in the history of the tournament against Arnaud Clément.

With Fabrice Santoro, the holder of a match ticket was guaranteed to get his money’s worth. Whether he is facing a player within his reach or one of the best players in the world, the Frenchman launched into the match with the same determination.

His touch of the ball and his two-handed backhand made him very difficult to play. He had also been nicknamed “the magician” by Pete Sampras and “the little magician” by Pat Cash. Fabrice Santoro has also enjoyed great longevity.

In 2009, he celebrated the 20th anniversary of his first participation in Roland-Garros and, in 20 years, he missed only one tournament, in 1996. He played very physically demanding tennis, but he was very careful about his physical preparation and was little injured.

This longevity and his constant fighting spirit have enabled him to set many records, including the longest match in tennis history in 2004 when he beat Arnaud Clément in 6:35 hours of play (6-4, 6-3 , 6-7, 3-6, 16-14) at Roland-Garros.

This record will be broken in 2010 by John Isner and Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon (11:05 am), but this Santoro-Clément remains the longest match in the history of RolandGarros:

“Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clément were two fighters, two players adored by the public because they never let go. It is not surprising that they fought such a fight. Doing it at Roland Garros, in front of your audience, gives you more strength even if you are physically exhausted. With this kind of match, we make a small place in the history of a tournament. Everyone is still talking to me about this match against Isner » explains Nicolas Mahut.

« Fabrice had a fantastic look, a great tactician who took notes on his opponents »

This titanic fight launched the 2004 tournament since it took place in the first round. Given the profile of the two players, the spectators expected a close match. The start is disappointing with Arnaud Clément who fails to counter a player he knows perfectly and Fabrice Santoro wins the first two sets.

But Clément is not the type to give up easily, he manages to foil Fabrice Santoro, pushes him to the fault and pockets the following two sets, the fourth being completed the next day because the night had interrupted the meeting the day before. after four hours of the match.

Pete Sampras did not accidentally nickname Fabrice Santoro “the magician”

The 5th set alone will last more than two hours. Physically exhausted, the two players do not let go, the exchanges are slower and slower and breaks are rare. Clément gets two match points, but misses them and at 14-14, Santoro breaks. After saving some debreak balls, he concluded on his 16-14 serve:

“This is one of the matches that remain etched in our memory. These two knew each other inside out. Then there is the aspect of playing against a compatriot.

In this case, the classification no longer intervenes. And the emotional character takes over. The match was exciting. We wondered who was going to gain the upper hand over the other Fabrice has always had a destabilizing game for his opponents ” recognizes Eric Debliker, former national coach and who knew both players perfectly before adding:

“Fabrice Santoro had a slice that didn’t bounce back. Santoro never returned two balls the same way. He mastered the amortization to perfection.

He was returning well and taking the ball very early too. Santoro had a fantastic look with an almost instant start. He was a great tactician. He took notes on his opponents. He didn’t have a big physique, but he was so beautiful to see because he was so special.

People all over the world loved to watch him play because he was constantly surprising. He was also skillful on the volley and returned well which made him a good doubles player as well. ” After this victory, Fabrice Santoro will deliver another marathon in five sets the next day against Labadze (6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 6-1, 62) before being eliminated in the next round by Olivier Mutis (6- 0, 6-2, 6-3).

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