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Fabrice, Meet Andy...
Posted 9/3/2005 @ 1:57 PM

I don’t know how John McEnroe and his crew in the booth handled it, but last night's match between Roger Federer and Fabrice Santoro was one of those great occasions that speaks volumes about the nature and spirit of tennis. It started with the Andre Agassi-grade ovation Roger Federer got as he strolled onto the blue mosh pit of Arthur Ashe stadium.

It was great to see the generally ethnocentric American crowd respond like that; it suggested that even the McEnroe and Connors worshipping New York folks are vaguely aware of this cat-quick, cool Swiss kid.

Santoro, on whom Pete Sampras bestowed the nickname, The Magician, was a perfect foil to Federer, in that his game doesn’t really threaten the Mighty Fed, but he’s artful and clever enough to goad Federer into bringing out his most creative side. . . Oh, drop shot from the baseline, off an overhead, Fabrice? Okay, how about this: a sliced backhand approach off your big forehand — and inside-out to boot. . .

What a field day for the geeks!

As Federer said:

. . .but here it was great. They (the crowd) were backing him up. I had a blast out there because the crowd really get into a match like this. I knew it from the start, this could be a very interesting match, the way he plays, the way I play. This is a night session at the U.S. Open. I knew it could be a great one.

Great one indeed — and the right time for it, before a record night-session crowd of 23,352.

When it was pointed out to Santoro that he has two wins over Federer, and asked what the best tactics to employ against him are, Santoro said:

No, I think no one has a tactic to beat Federer today. No one has a tactic. I beat him once, in 1999, I think, and once in 2002. Since that day in Madrid, October 2002, I lost six times in a row, and I didn’t win a set.
Last year, I played – I think – two great matches against him, and I didn’t win a set. Tonight again, I think I can’t play better than what I did, and he’s still better than me.

Join the gang, Fabrice. By the way, have you met Andy? Oh – no, Rafa's not here yet, but he may be on his way. Want to try his cell? :lol:

The match was such a collegial, entertaining clash that for the first time anyone could remember, USA’s Michael Barkann interviewed both players after the match.

What a great advertisement for the sport. :yeah:

9,433 Posts
Great article Mirkaland, thanks
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