Sunday, November 8, 2009

Santoro hangs up his racquet after 20 years on tour

I've always liked Fabrice Santoro, his polite and classy behaviour combined with his incredible shot making and determination, has made him a hugely popular player amongst hard core tennis fans. While he might not have been a house-hold name to the casual follower, Santoro, was still one of the most enjoyable players to watch. He favored spin and placement over aggression and power, he was mostly a defensive player but at times he could go on the offense by coming to the net or adding more spin to his serve. He's also, one of the few players ever to have had a two handed forehand, which is definitely a must see. In case you haven't seen it before, I've included the link to a few of his matches at the bottom of this post so click on them and enjoy.:)

Santoro's, pro career began 20 years ago, at the 1989 French Open, where he lost a five set match to David Wheaton in the first round. This was also the same tournament where he claimed his first (and only) boys jr. grand slam title. In his early years on tour, Santoro managed to get some very credible wins against the best players, he beat Boris Becker in the 1992 Olympics and managed to win 2 of his first 3 meetings with Pete and Andre but despite his success against the top players, Santoro, routinely struggled to get into the later rounds of the majors and was only able to make the second week once in his whole career. Oddly enough, he skipped Wimbledon 7 times but only missed the French Open once.

The late 90s/early 2000s were probably Santoro's best years on tour, he claimed 4 of his 6 singles titles during this time period and in August of 2001, he reached his career high ranking of 17 in the world. In 2003 and 04 Santoro and his doubles partner Michael Llorda, claimed the Australian Open title back to back and managed to reach the French Open finals. Two years later Santoro achieved his best results ever at a singles grand slam, reaching the quarter-finals at the 2006 Australian Open.

Even in his last years on tour, Santoro proved that he was still dangerous, by upsetting high ranked players like Djokovic and big servers like Isner. In 2007 and 08 Santoro claimed the New Port title, making him one of the oldest players ever to win an ATP level singles tournament. Earlier this year Santoro, declared that this would be his last year on tour. And after losing to James Blake today in the Paris Masters tournament, Santoro shook hands at the net, (while exchanging shirts) and left the stadium for the last time, the crowds applause roaring behind him.

Fabrice wins the 1989 French Open boys jr. title

Santoro defeats Novak Djokovic Paris 2007

Santoro vs Andre 1994

Santoro rallies against Federer

Fabrice retrospect on his career:

Friday, November 6, 2009

Thoughts on Andre's new book

I've decided to write a post about Andre Agassi's new book titled 'Open'. In this book Andre, brings up some pretty controversial things. Substance abuse, his marriage with Brook Shields, being pushed into tennis by his father, and he even admitted to having worn a wig during the 1990 French Open Final.

In addition to all of those things, Andre, also confessed to having a deep, secret hatred for tennis, brought about by his father's incessant need for him to become a pro. According to Andre, he didn't even want to go pro, but his dad never gave him a choice about it. It all started for him, when he was a small kid. Andre's, father made him practicing returning 110 mph balls, against a mechanically altered ball machine. As Andre got older, his father, would bribe him to skip school, in order to practice more tennis. Andre, said that his dad didn't think much of education and encouraged Andre to scorn it as well. Andre's dad put so much pressure on him to perform, that he began to hate tennis, this anger towards tennis continued into his adult years and was one of the main reasons for his inconsistency. Andre, didn't want to be a tennis player and he didn't care if he did well at it, it was just something that he had to do.

Unfortunately, this probably happens to a lot of kids, who's parents force them into sports or competitions. There's so much pressure to perform that they get fed up with it and rebel against their parents. I'm sorry to hear this happened to Andre Agassi, considering the stories that I've heard about Andre's father smashing his fourth place trophy when he was 10 years old, I can understand why Andre wouldn't have enjoyed tennis.

Now as for Andre's drug abuse that's completely different. The media has been making a huge deal out of this, we've had tennis players, both current and past who have been giving their opinions on it, in fact pretty much everyone has an opinion on this. I personally, am disappointed but not altogether surprised that he resorted to drugs, during the low point of his tennis career. Things, weren't the way Andre wanted them to be and he was severely depressed. so when his assistant offered him some crystal meth, he decided to take it, thinking that his life couldn't get any worse.

While, I can understand Andre's desire to get out of his depressed state, it doesn't change the fact that he was using an illegal substance, that could debateably be considered a performance enhancing drug. Why didn't the ATP hold him accountable for this? Well it turns out that he did fail one of his drug tests, and they did question him about it, but he made up some story about his assistant slipping meth into his sports drink by accident. Why the ATP bought this story I'll never know. Today, these athletes are tested almost every week for illegal drugs. Just this year, Gasquet had a drug test that turned out positive, for a tiny, tiny amount of cocaine and that resulted in an instant ban for him, until he was able to clear his name. Should Andre receive the same kind of punishment for using crystal Meth. It's been 12 years but it doesn't really seem fair that he should be able to get away without any kind of fine. It's a tough question to answer. Performance enhancing drugs will get you a 2 year ban on the tour and that would strip Andre of his Roland Garros and US Open titles from 1999, as well as his Australian Open title from 2000.
Would this be the right thing to do? I don't know, it seems a bit excessive but then again he did break the rules. This is definitely a tough question to answer.

So I'd like to hear from you guys, what's your opinion about Andre's drug use? Should he be fined, penalized, have his titles taken away or was it just too long ago for it to matter?