Posts Tagged Fabrice Santoro

Why I Admire Fabrice Santoro’s Tennis Game By Joe Marshall

Joe Marshall loves Fabrice Santoro’s ultra-unorthodox style, and many of Joe’s opponents have complained to me how maddening it is to play against him. It’s full of lobs, spins, surprise placements and drop shots, and a ball that lacks all the speed and force of what most modern power tennis is about. Maybe you’d find it works for you. In the video above, Fabrice is the guy who keeps returning the balls that the other guy just can’t seem to put away. There is another video that won’t embed. This is Joe’s fifth article in a series about winning tennis strategies for doubles.

The magician, Fabrice Santoro. He played for 22 years on the pro tour, the only man in the open era to play in four decades. His highest rank in singles was 17, yet he was as high as 37 in his mid-30’s, a year or so before he retired.

Fabrice beat more #1 players at some point in their career than anyone else (tied with Andre Agassi). He was 3-4 against Pete Sampras, 3-3 against Andre, 8-3 against Marat Safin, 1-0 against Jimmy Connors….he beat a total of eighteen #1’s. It was Pete who named him The Magician.

No one had more joy on the court, no one had a more original style (his main shot was his two-handed, cross handed, righty forehand slice, which he hit primarily with his left hand! Sound impossible? Watch the video).
In an age of power and more power, Fabrice hit the ball softly, neutralizing power, and using his opponent’s aggressiveness to confound him…..like Judo the way the monks invented it. He was a showman and a great sport, quick to compliment his opponent on a great shot with a bow or applause.

He could beat you many different ways….great defense, tricky spins, looped passing shots, drop shots, lobs, sneak attack volleys, and gentle but confusing approach shots….he was afraid of no one. He has the record for the most singles losses in the open era (more than 400), but he won more than he lost (more than 450 matches), and was a great doubles player, winning a couple of grand slam titles. He had the record for the longest match ever (beating Arnaud Clement at the French open in 6 hours and 40 minutes over two days) until it was eclipsed by the famous John Isner-Nicolas Mahut three day affair at Wimbledon. I doubt that they will let him on the senior tour….he would wear them all out…..Enjoy!

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Santoro’s Skills Conjure Tennis Magic And Art

Here is an amusing video showing Fabrice Santoro displaying his lobbing skill. He is called the “Magician,” because he pulls so many amazing shots out of his hat that no one else can. In this clip, you will see a dink, a lob, a dink, another lob, and then a third drop shot. I feel sorry for his tired opponent, David Nalbandian, who keeps running from the net to the baseline and back a couple of times in the same point.

Here is a second video with a few additional Santoro points to admire.

Because I am not able to be a very aggressive player with a killer instinct, Santoro’s game appeals to me for its artistry and its subtlety. Yesterday I had quite a few successful lobs that won points so effortlessly that it was embarrassing. I did love seeing the server in doubles running all the way across the baseline to retrieve the lob, which then opened up the other side of the court for a winner. If I am not a killer, maybe there is a bit of meanness in me. I have to bring it out on the courts.

When I raise my percentage of lobs in way over 50%, I will be a real competitor. Still working on it, but at least now I have another weapon…or as a hunter friend likes to say: another arrow in my quiver.

Santoro won 24 doubles titles in his long professional career of 21 years. He just retired at age 38, but I saw him play once or twice at Newport. Fabrice is noted for his cheery attitude on court and his vast arsenal of trick shots, making him a crowd favorite and gaining him the admiration of his peers. In recognition of Santoro’s varied and innovative style of play, Pete Sampras nicknamed him The Magician.

Santoro plays with two hands on forehand and backhand, and though he is right-handed, often slices his forehand with his left hand.

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Tennis Report—New Grip And New Strategies

Playing the game furiously and practicing as well with a ball machine. So I was on the court five times (7 3/4 hours) last week and three times (5½ hours) this week. Was also in Newport RI watching a tennis tournament for three days last week.

My performance is mixed. Won three out of four doubles sets one day, lost to the oldest guys (they are 93 and 85) the next (one a tiebreaker). Then won at singles with a friend who has a great top spin stroke, and he suggested I change my grip—I moved my hand half an inch farther from the racket head, so that the end of the handle is in my palm rather than just past it. Now I can whip the racket more. What a difference. I can now hit the sweet spot of the racket much more often, almost every time. But the extra power sends the ball long a lot, and we lost all three sets one day.

However my team finally beat the oldest guys 6-2. This is the first time in 8 sets. A record. However pathetic. So some improvement. Then last night I played with the stronger guys in their 50’s and received compliments from two men who had played singles against me just once a year ago and were never available again—I was too far beneath their level. One was on the opposing doubles team, and I couldn’t believe how easily I returned his serve last night that I could hardly touch a year ago. Unfortunately my serve was off, and I choked in the final game. My team split sets.

One player last night uses what he calls “junk” shots—they are all spins and lobs and drops and dinks. He doesn’t do the hard power hitting that so many others choose. Joe’s game is very thoughtful, filled with well-placed shots. Much like the 2007 and 2008 champion of the Campbell’s Cup tournament I saw in Newport, Fabrice Santoro, nicknamed The Magician. Joe admires Santoro’s style, so I called him the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Joe was full of advice that I liked: Read the rest of this entry »

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