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January 17, 2008

Fabrice Santoro


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How was that for you? Looked like a bit of fun.
FABRICE SANTORO: Yeah, a little too fast. Too fast (smiling).

Q. Pardon me?
FABRICE SANTORO: Too fast. Too quick.

Q. I guess as the game went on, there were some amusing moments prompted by yourself. What was your thinking behind that?
FABRICE SANTORO: It was a tough match for me, as you saw probably. So regarding the score, it was not easy to have fun, but I tried to have some.

Q. Pointing to the scoreboard at the end.
FABRICE SANTORO: Because the reality was pretty bad for me, yeah. It's okay (smiling).

Q. You're retiring at the end of the year?
FABRICE SANTORO: I don't know yet. I can't answer a hundred percent now.

Q. You're not a hundred percent?
FABRICE SANTORO: No, I can't be sure.

Q. What did you think of the reaction of the crowd today?
FABRICE SANTORO: It was great. I mean, it was great. They're maybe thinking it was my last match on this court, and this court is very special for me. I played three Grand Slam finals on this court. I played my only quarterfinal on this court. I played a Davis Cup final on this court. I beat the record today on this court, too.
So after 20 years on the tour, if I take my top 10 matches, there are at least five or six on this court.

Q. So it would be quite tough to say good-bye then?
FABRICE SANTORO: I may be back (smiling).

Q. You've seen Roger through almost a decade now. How does his game this year compare with other times you've seen him?
FABRICE SANTORO: He's still working hard. He's still improving. It's tough to say, because he was a tremendous player the past four years, and I think he's a better player today. He's a better athlete, too. He's moving unbelievably well.
Everything looks easy to him. There is no space to play. There is no space to hit some aces because he's returning everything. He has time when he's attacking. He has time when he's on the defense, too. He has always time to play. He's never in a rush or anything. When he's coming to the net, there is no space to pass him.

Q. As somebody who appreciates tennis history, is there any part of you that just enjoys the chance to play him, even if it is so difficult to beat him?
FABRICE SANTORO: I'd love to play him once again. I'd love to.

Q. Because why, in particular?
FABRICE SANTORO: Because it's so beautiful, what he's doing. I mean, you can't imagine. I hit sometimes the best shot. I mean, in the past three weeks, I played very well.
I mean, I beat some good guys. I beat very tall guys, the American Isner, two days ago in straight sets, and I was playing very well. Last week I beat three guys. One was James Blake, which is one of the best players in the world.
In November I beat Roddick. I beat Djokovic. I mean, I'm able to play some good tennis against the top guys.
But today I feel like he's coming from somewhere else. I mean, I tried a few things. I mean, you can say that maybe I could hit stronger, maybe I can... But when you look a little bit at the stats, I missed four balls, four unforced errors in the match I did. He did 58 winners in 58 minutes almost (laughter).
So I served quite good. I was moving well. I was fit physically. I was hitting the ball well. And I won three games, so it's not much (smiling).

Q. Is this a frustrating feeling or is it just like, Just two or three guys can beat him?
FABRICE SANTORO: On hard court, indoor or grass, not many guys can do that bad with me. Not many guys. Maybe the only one, I think.
But I don't feel like I missed my match. I don't feel like I should have done this or this better. I tried to attack. But when you attack, he pass well. Forehand, backhand. Even when you have the first volley, the volley is turning so much, so it's tough to volley.
And when he was changing side, doesn't matter to him with the wind or against the wind. Doesn't matter. Maybe he doesn't know it was windy (smiling).

Q. When you play him, you said it's a nice feeling, besides the score. But isn't it better than to watch him?
FABRICE SANTORO: It's good. I mean, sure, I mean, I'd love to win a set, win the match, to win more games. But it was good to be out there. I mean, to be against him for the record.
And at my age, you can be able to play your match and appreciate your opponent, too. And I think I did both today. I was trying many things. I did quite a lot of -- I mean, some forehand, topspin forehand a few times. It didn't help.
I served quite good. Didn't help. And when I hit some unbelievable passing shots, there was no space. The only space was out of the court, but I'm not allowed to (laughter).
Everything is perfect. Everything, I mean.

Q. Do you think Richard Gasquet might be the same artist as you have been for so many years?
FABRICE SANTORO: Richard is already better than I've ever been in my career. He's 8 in the world, which is better than my best. I don't think he will play 62 Grand Slams. I mean, cross my fingers for him. Maybe he will do it, but it's going to be tough.
But I watched his match last night. He was playing unbelievable. Unbelievable. So now he's in the third round. He's very fit physically. He hits the ball well. He has a tough opponent tomorrow. But who knows?

Q. In terms of style, he's going to walk in your footsteps?
FABRICE SANTORO: We have a different game. He has one of the best backhands in the world. He's very important in France as a tennis player since he's 10 or 12 years old. He has a lot of pressure on his shoulders since more than 10 years already. And he's improving every year, every year.
But everybody's expecting him to win a Grand Slam, so it's pretty tough. It's a lot of expectation because only two guys are winning the Grand Slam at the moment.

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