Last week we were the first to write about Fabrice Santoro and how this would be his last French Open at Roland Garros. Fabrice Santoro, nicknamed the Magician for his habit of mystifying bigger and stronger opponents, is proudly preparing to open his bag of tricks for his 20th and final French Open show. The Frenchman, who will retire at the end of the year, will extend his record of appearances at grand-slam events to 67 in the May 24-June 7 claycourt tournament.
The 36-year-old Frenchman played only eight minutes Wednesday before completing a first-round loss to Christophe Rochus of Belgium 6-3, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4. The match had been suspended Tuesday because of darkness.
“When I started my career on court No. 10 in 1989, I did not imagine at all that I would hold the microphone in my hands 20 years later in front of you,” Santoro said to the crowd at Court Suzanne Lenglen. “Those were extraordinary and fantastic years that I will never forget.”
Santoro has played in a record 67 Grand Slam tournaments, making the fourth round three times — at the French Open in 1991 and 2001 and at the Australian Open in 1999.
“Twenty years. That counts for something in a lifetime,” Santoro said. “It has been a long road, a fantastic career. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot.”
Santoro and Rochus started their match Tuesday, but it was suspended with the Belgian leading 5-3 in the fourth set. The pair came back out onto the court after top-ranked Dinara Safina’s easy win and finished the match quickly.
“I’m saying to myself that the story is over, that a page is being turned,” Santoro said. “I will no longer be on court next year. But I think that it is time to go.”