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January 15, 2008

Fabrice Santoro


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You set the record?

Q. What does it mean to you, this record?
FABRICE SANTORO: That means that I'm in front of you after 20 years on the tour and keep playing and still having fun on the court and still winning a little bit.

Q. Anything deeper than that to you as a person?
FABRICE SANTORO: The thing is when you look at the history of game and see all these champion, like Sampras, Agassi, before like Connors, who had a huge and long career, all these past champion, the only point, I'm a little bit in front of them. Because I have a huge respect for them, this record means a lot to me. I mean, I can't match against them about many things, except this one.

Q. Why have you been able to maintain a level for so long?
FABRICE SANTORO: I think I love the game more than many players or more than normally. I always try to improve my game, to understand what's going on on the court, to listen to my body, stay healthy, just try to be the best every day. And yeah, as I told you, in the past 10, 12 years I change many things in my game. If you look at the first match I played in '89 on a Grand Slam and today, I have a completely different game. I change my racquet. I have a longer racquet. I change my serve. I change my style of play. I change my string. I mean, the only thing I kept is the crocodile (laughter).

Q. You told us last year the ambition you still have is you want to play at Wimbledon Centre Court. How long do you think it's going to go on?
FABRICE SANTORO: Well, every year I play on center court of almost every Grand Slam except Wimbledon. Last year I lost to Blake in New York. In two days I will play Federer probably on center court again. Hopefully I will have a chance in a couple of months to play on Wimbledon Centre Court.
But I have no idea. I hope so.

Q. Do you enjoy your reputation as a frustrating player?
FABRICE SANTORO: Yeah, sure. Sure, sure. I mean, many people in -- I mean, in the locker room or when you walk into the stadium, I mean, from the crowd, are talking about my game more with - how we say - more with respect than frustration. That's what I listen a bit.
My game is different, and my career is a little bit different, and that's it.

Q. Considering you have survived so long in tennis, I know you said your style has changed over the years, but ostensibly you've been a very different kind of player, are you surprised not more players have tried to be a little different, whereas tennis now has so many players that are so much the same?
FABRICE SANTORO: Yeah, I mean, the game has changed a lot with new racquets, new balls, new courts, new technique, new physic, new body from the players. So when you're strong and you have a lot of muscle, you want to use them. When you don't have muscle, you have to play differently.

Q. You played the tallest opponent you've ever faced today.
FABRICE SANTORO: No, I played Karlovic.

Q. But he's pretty big.

Q. Yeah.

Q. Do you think in ten years' time a player like Fabrice Santoro could be playing the sport because there will be so many big guys out there?
FABRICE SANTORO: I don't understand the question.

Q. Is the trend going to be that there is going to be huge basketball players playing tennis, so will that make it difficult for a guy your size?
FABRICE SANTORO: Well, I always thought that the best size to play tennis is 185. That was my opinion and my thought, because you can have every physical quality. You can play long and you can serve well. You can be fast and you can have a good balance in your body. You can be strong and have every quality if you're 185, 188.
That's a little bit the size of the best champion we had like Federer, Sampras. Maybe in the future we will have very good athletes over 190 because everybody's working harder and harder.
But it's tough to play, to move very, very well when you are 210 like these guys. For sure it's easier when you're up there to look at the balls and make a serve. But to move the same way as a short guys, a guy like Federer, is really difficult. And also you have to play a lot -- I mean, most of your shots you play very far from the body, so you can't have the same control.

Q. What do you think of probably next match against Federer? Is it the end of your Australian Open 2008?
FABRICE SANTORO: I can't answer at this point. The week before the tournament -- I mean the week before the tournament, I said my dream is to play Federer second or third round in Melbourne. So when I look at the draw I said, Wow, I have this tall guy first, and hopefully I can go through and play Roger because I'm not going to play that long in the future, and I want to have the chance to play against Federer for once, twice. In two days I will probably have a chance to play. I will be -- I mean, I'm very happy. I will have like 48 hours to think about it, to set a little bit my game, to recover, and be 100% on the court.

Q. Have you thought about what you are going to do once you do retire? Are you going to be a coach?
FABRICE SANTORO: Oh, no, no, no.

Q. Because everyone says you're their favorite player to watch. So teaching other players to play...
FABRICE SANTORO: You talk about frustration. You talk about the best one to watch.
No, I mean, I tried to help -- I mean to talk some of players because I'm happy to do it and I will say that I need do it, because I think I know -- I don't know everything about the game, but I know the game pretty well. That's why I'm still playing at this level.
So I'm very happy to talk to the young guys when I have a chance and when they ask me. But no chance I will be a coach 30 weeks a year in the future.

Q. Not on the road.
FABRICE SANTORO: No, but 15, why not?

Q. Your family has helped elongate your career. Some players would find it very hard to continue playing with a child.
FABRICE SANTORO: Yeah, I mean, no, my daughter is going to school, so I came to Australia alone for the first time in the past five years. So it's something different. It makes the January month a little bit longer. But I play Federer, so I'm not too far from my daughter (smiling).

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