Thursday, May 28, 2009

Santoro bows out in first round

2009 French Open - Day Four

Fabrice Santoro could not summon up one last trick as his final French Open campaign ended with a defeat to Christophe Rochus.

The popular 36-year-old, playing for the 20th and last time at Roland Garros, returned this afternoon aiming to turn his match against the Belgian around after bad light stopped play last night with Rochus leading 6-3 6-1 3-6 5-3.

But his dream ended after eight more minutes of action, Rochus clinching the fourth set 6-4.

Santoro, nicknamed 'The Magician', was given a standing ovation as he left Suzanne Lenglen court and he admitted it had been an emotional couple of days for him.

"I had a feeling I was turning the page in my life, even though I still have 10 tournaments left to play," he said, when asked what he thought after losing match point.

"I will never play singles at Roland Garros again. But despite the fact I'll be 37, I'm convinced I can play a great tournament at Wimbledon."

The power-based game of the modern-day player could not be more different to the style of the diminutive Santoro, who has regaled crowds over the years with his clever shots and deft touches around the court.

"When I look at the top players today, none of them play like me," he said.

"Although having said that, I'd have loved it if I could have played like (Roger) Federer."

Meanwhile, Andy Murray is relieved his title hopes are still intact after he survived a mid-match slump to defeat Potito Starace in the second round.

The British number one was a 6-3 2-6 7-5 6-4 winner against the Italian on Philippe Chatrier court, setting up a clash with unseeded Janko Tipsarevic.

But Murray was given a real fright in the second and third sets, Starace - the world number 104 - winning 11 out of 13 games as the Scot imploded.

Murray managed to recover from 5-1 down in that third set to win six games in a row and lay the platform for his hard-fought victory.

"I left a lot of balls in the middle of the court. I was playing further behind the baseline. And his big weapon is his forehand, and he managed to make me move a lot with that," said Murray.

"But the most important thing is I found a way to win and I'm very happy to be in the next round."

Tipsarevic was one of two players to upset seeds today, the Serbian knocking out Feliciano Lopez, the 28th seed, with a four-set victory.

The other was France's Arnaud Clement, who beat Dmitry Tursunov 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-1.

Eighth seed Fernando Verdasco set up an intriguing third-round clash with fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro by thrashing Philipp Petzschner 6-1 6-2 6-3.

Almagro, the 31st seed and a real danger on clay, needed four sets to overcome Ernests Gulbis, eventually seeing the Latvian off 6-7 (4/7) 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 6-2.

Gilles Simon needed five sets to get past Wayne Odesnik in the first round but the seventh seed had it easier today, making round three with a 7-5 6-0 6-1 win over Robert Kendrick, another American.

Fernando Gonzalez (12), Marin Cilic (13), Stanislas Wawrinka (17) and Victor Hanescu (30) were other seeded players to win their second-round matches in straight sets.

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