They call him magician. Fabrice Santoro played his last singles match at Roland Garros, bowing out to Belgian Christophe Rochus in a four-set match held over from yesterday. The magician, whom someone in the know said Parisian fans don't even like, gave them something to talk about anyway.
Au revoir, Fabrice.
They call him mercurial. Marat Safin played his last singles match, bowing out to 23-year-0ld French wild card Josselin Ouanna. 7-6(2), 7-6(4), 4-6, 3-6, 10-8. Marat struck 86 winners to 75 errors; Josselin 62 to 61. Match of the event so far. After falling behind two sets to love, Marat stormed back to force a deciding set, and as is often the case, serving second in a set with no tiebreak eventually broke his resolve.
Ouanna was playing on fumes. I truly thought he'd bow out after dropping the fourth set. After all, he already survived a five-set match to get here. But he wouldn't give up and he wouldn't give in.
Marat fought to the bitter end. No huge walkabouts. Not much flailing on the forehand. He showed fire and deep desire. Can't strike all those winners on clay without both. But, alas, as is often the case, serving second in a set with no tiebreak eventually breaks a player's resolve. Marat looped a forehand wide to surrender the war.
Au revoir, Marat.
As for Ouanna, what a talent. Huge serve, whipping forehand, smooth-as-satin backhand that he can fire flat down the line, loop high with heavy topspin, slice low into the ground, slide a deft volley barely over the net. His game reminds me of Hicham Arazi's. But Ouanna possesses a huge heart.
The French tennis federation must be beside itself with its pick. It ran this one-on-one with him Monday.