Santoro Continues to Wield His Magic

by John on July 14, 2008

Fabrice Santoro got to celebrate Bastille Day early this year. The No. 2-seeded Frenchman won his second straight Hall of Fame Tennis Championships title yesterday, downing Prakash Amritraj 6-3, 7-5 to become the second player since 1990 to win an ATP event after his 35th birthday. Andre Agassi won three events in 2005 when he was 35. In winning his sixth career title, the 35-year old Frenchman and fan favorite became the oldest player to win the tournament on the International Hall of Fame’s grass courts in Newport, R.I. “When you start a career at 16 years old, never, ever can you imagine you’ll win a tournament 20 years later,” said Santoro. “I played my first French Open in 1989. I have the same passion for the game as five, 10, 15 years ago, maybe more.” Known for his cheery nature and vast arsenal of trick shots, Santoro is perhaps the most unorthodox player on tour. He hits two-handed on both sides and often slices and dices his opponents into complete frustration and frequent defeat. Pete Sampras labeled him The Magician. Marat Safin, who has a 2-7 record against the Frenchman, said: “Being told I would play Santoro was being told I was to die.” Santoro has defeated 17 players who were ranked No. 1 in the world at some time during their careers, including Jimmy Connors, Agassi, Sampras, Safin and Roger Federer. Sunday’s match was the 451st win of Santoro’s career, fourth among active players behind Federer, Carlos Moya and Lleyton Hewitt. The Frenchman has also lost 418 matches. “I’m just very happy on the court, to have the trophy in my hands,” Santoro said afterward.

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