Finally, an interview in English
The Biofile: The Fabrice Santoro Interview
By Scoop Malinowski
Fabrice Santoro is a doctor who specializes in spins and performs his clinical surgery on court. The 34-year-old Frenchman's dazzling array of spins, slices and soft shots can be magical sight for fans and pose maddening problems for opponents.
Santoro varies the spin, speed, height and depth on his shots and is a master of making opponents hit off-balance shots from awkward positions on the court. He dispatched fellow Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in straight sets on Sunday to capture the Campbell's Hall of Fame Tennis Championships title on the historic grass courts of Newport. It was Santoro's first singles title in five years and the fifth of his career.
"Yes, it's frustrating to play him," said top-ranked Roger Federer, who has beaten Santoro in eight of their 10 meetings. "It's got something to do with his game, but also all the missed opportunities. The strange thing is he's a righty, but he plays his forehand like a lefty. When you come to net, he'll never give you an easy shot."
Santoro is a player fellow pros love watching — provided they're not playing him. A master of misdirection, the man nicknamed "the magician" makes clean shots disappear and has vanquished some of the top talents in tennis. Santoro has beaten Australian Open champion Marat Safin seven times in nine meetings and is 3-4 lifetime against 14-time Grand Slam champion Pete Sampras.
An accomplished doubles player, Santoro and partner Michael Llodra captured consecutive Australian Open doubles championships in 2003-2004.
The man who plays old school tennis owns an extensive collection of vintage racquets and dreams of someday opening his own tennis museum.
Santoro sat down with Tennis Week.com contributor Scoop Malinowski to reveal that his first job was calling the lines rather than hitting them, that another touch artist, John McEnroe, remains his tennis hero and why he regards Yevgeny Kafelnikov as the toughest player he's ever faced.
Currently ranked No. 43, Santoro has scored career victories over Lleyton Hewitt, Marat Safin, Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, Sebastien Grosjean, David Nalbandian, Tommy Haas, Nicolas Kiefer, Carlos Moya and Patrick Rafter.
5-foot-10 Weight: 160 pounds.
December 9th, 1972 in Tahiti.
"John McEnroe, for sure."
"Now I like to spend most of my time with my wife and my daughter because I miss them a lot when I'm on the Tour. And for the rest of the time, I listen to a lot of music, the French music. I have a passion, which is to stay busy. Building a home, trying to build a home in the south of France takes a lot of time."
Early Tennis Memory:
"McEnroe-Lendl final of the French Open, 1984. Devastation because I remember I was pushing a lot behind John and I remember I was very disappointed after the match. Because I knew it was a big chance for him to win the French (McEnroe led two sets to none before falling, 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5). And I was very, very disappointed."
"Jean-Jacques Goldman, French singer Frances Cabrel."
"Umpire. I was 12 or 13. Usam Club. I was on the chair for a couple of matches, to earn some pickup money, a couple of dollars."
"Was a white Lada, very cheap car."
"In general, I'm stressed. Very stressed. And when I'm like this, I know I'm going to play well. I need the stress to feel good."
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:
Greatest Sports Moment:
"Probably when we won the Davis Cup final in Australia (2001)."
Most Painful Moment:
"Hmmm (pause)...when I was not on the team for the Davis Cup final in 1991 (which France won against USA in Lyon. Fabrice recorded two Davis Cup semifinal wins vs. Yugoslavia to help France reach that final)."
Closest Tennis Friends:
"It's tough to answer. I would say there are many, many people I respect a lot and pretty close to. But my best friend is not on the Tour."
"On the court or off the court? Off...(pause)...I have to pick a Frenchman because it's tough for me to understand the humor in different languages. So...I have to say my doubles partner (Michael Llodra).
"Kafelnikov was best for me. (Why?) Because he has the answers for every question I ask him on the court. Because when I'm on the other side of the net he has every shot to cause me trouble."
Funny Tennis Memory:
"McEnroe, when he became crazy on the court. A couple of times he was pretty tough on the umpire. And that part of his character, as a young kid, I really appreciate (smiles)."
"My career is more than I ever dreamed. I was trying when I was young — to be a professional tennis player. And I said, Maybe I can be on the Tour for three, four or five years. And I'm there for 16 years. So it's more than the first dream."
People Qualities Most Admired:
"Honesty — that's the first one. Honest — that's more important for me...on the court, out of the court, and every part of the life."
Wife, Chrislaure; daughter, Djenae.