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Santoro bows out after Blake defeat

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:49

Fabrice Santoro, nicknamed ‘The Magician’ by Pete Sampras because of his fondness for spins and slices, was beaten 6-4 6-3 by James Blake on Sunday afternoon.

The 36-year-old then exchanged shirts with his opponent and went on a lap of honour around the Bercy arena.

Addressing the crowd, he said: “Thank you for supporting me all these years, forcing me to push myself. That way I could get the most of my passion.

“In principle, at the age of nearly 37, I should not be on the centre court at Bercy. So I am happy to pass the mantle on to youth.”

American Blake then paid tribute to Santoro, saying: “I congratulate Fabrice for his long career. He forced you to always play your best tennis.”

Santoro turned professional in 1989 and won six ATP Tour titles in his 20-year career, the last of which came in Newport, Rhode Island, last season.

He was also a highly-successful doubles player, winning 24 titles, including the Australian Open in 2003 and 2004 with Michael Llodra.

Blake will face fourth seed Andy Murray, who won the Valencia Open on Sunday, in the second round while Germany’s Benjamin Becker next plays Nikolay Davydenko after a 3-6 6-2 6-3 victory over Llodra.

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