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January 19, 2010

Fabrice Santoro


M. CILIC/F. Santoro
7-5, 7-5, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. So this was it?
FABRICE SANTORO: I was very happy to come back one more time here. No regrets. I was happy to fly to Melbourne, practice there for one week. It was not the best draw for me, but I played a very, very good match, so I'm happy.

Q. You competed against many generations in four decades. How do you look back at these matchups against many champions? Was it a big adventure for you?
FABRICE SANTORO: I think the game has changed a lot for the past 20 years. When you look at where I am when I start with Connors, McEnroe, then Becker, then Edberg, Agassi, Sampras, Courier, these guys, and also Rafter.
Then you can see today with Federer, Nadal, and all the guys behind, I mean, tennis is improving all the time. The game has changed so much.
The fitness of the players has changed a lot. They are more and more professional. Everybody works so hard. Every player is very, very fit. So I would say that the game has completely changed since '89 when I played my first Grand Slam until today.
That's why it was very tough to stay in the same event.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about the decision you made to come back here another time after you decided to retire.
FABRICE SANTORO: Well, I decide on Wednesday, 6th of January, so it's not very far (laughter.) I took my holidays like I scheduled. I came back from the mountains, and I start to play, because I like to play. I didn't stop my career because I don't like tennis anymore. That's not the reason.
So I start to play with friends. For Christmas, for the new year, you receive a lot of phone calls, SMS, emails from your friends. They said, Okay, maybe why don't you go to Australia? You can play one more. You're fit. You like the game.
Another one say, Okay, you go and play four decades. I receive so many messages, talked to so many people from the game also, former players, and so I said, Okay, I have to go. I love Melbourne. This is my favorite city out of France. I have so many good souvenirs here. I remember 2001, beginning of December, I was sitting there after the Davis Cup. 2002, I was sitting there when we played the final in doubles. 2003, 2004, we won. 2006, I played the quarterfinal.
So Melbourne, this tournament, Rod Laver Arena and this room, everything is very special to me. So I want to be there.

Q. Of all the players you named, could you single out who was the best in those four decades?
FABRICE SANTORO: It's always really difficult to compare generation. But when you look at McEnroe, was a genius on the court. What he was doing on the court was amazing. Uhm, but when you look at the matches, we were lucky to see in the past two years with Roger/Rafa, the big Grand Slam final we had, Wimbledon, here last year. When you look at Sampras. It's very tough to make a ranking.
But I will say that the best opponent I ever had is Federer.

Q. What will you do after you plan on retiring from tennis?
FABRICE SANTORO: I think more and more about it. I will probably work a bit for the French media, TV and radio. Also with friends we are in charge of the men's tournament in September in France. Metz. It's one of the few tournaments we have in France, so it's important for me to be in the organization of the tournament, to see the other part of the job. I've been a player, and I will see how you build an event. Keep playing in some exhibition, I hope.
As I said before, I like the game. I will probably play tennis and hit some balls until the end of my life. So if I can play some exhibition, I will be happy.
Spend more time at home and try to find some new projects for the future, because in not many profession you retire at 35 or 30 or 37. So I hope life is still very long for me. I have to find some new projects for the future.

Q. Would you like to be a coach?
FABRICE SANTORO: Not this year, because being a coach on the tour is the same life as a player. You have to travel a lot. You have to be on the tour for six to eight months a year. And I stop my career because I don't want to live like this anymore. I don't feel like I can be a coach in the next probably two years.
But maybe one day I will feel like I want to help a player, I want to help a player to be a better player on the court. You know, I'm very open. So I can't say, except politics, I don't think there is one thing I don't want to do.

Q. You said you made the decision to come here on the 6th of January.

Q. Wasn't the entry deadline to sign up for the tournament a lot earlier?
FABRICE SANTORO: No, because on the Grand Slam and 1000 tournaments, you're automatically on the list when you have the ranking. From Federer to 104, everybody's on the list.

Q. Because you retired, they didn't put you off the list?
FABRICE SANTORO: No. They call me. I said, Oh, keep it. You never know (smiling.)
But I had my holidays. I did a few trip. I went skiing. I relaxed. I was very happy to pick up the racquet and to get on the flight to come here. I'm in Melbourne for 10 days. It was fun.
Even today on the court, I had the same feeling in the French Open last year. Was tough condition last night. Like in the match I played in the French Open, it was good to finish on the next day because it was a better atmosphere, more people.
And, as I told you, I practiced two weeks before the tournament, one in Paris, one here. I'm pretty happy about my match. I was playing better today against Cilic than I did in October, November at the end of the year.

End of FastScripts

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