Friday, August 6, 2004

Spin doctor Santoro starting to gain confidence



By Dustin Dow
Enquirer staff writer

MASON - Fabrice Santoro has a weapon opponents hate to face, but it's not a blistering forehand or a 140 mph serve.

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Instead, what Tommy Robredo has to deal with today in the quarterfinals of the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters is a bit of trickery.

Santoro is a spin doctor, a master of the racket who hits two-handed forehands and backhands -and who knows which way they'll bounce?

"I think everybody is hitting the ball hard today," Santoro said. "The guy playing against me knows he's going to have to see something different. For me, most of the guys on the Tour have the same kind of game, but when they play me, it's something different, and they have to deal with it."

Jonas Bjorkman couldn't even win a game off Santoro in the first set Thursday in a 6-0, 6-3 loss in the round of 16.

Santoro, 31, reached the quarterfinals last week in the Canada Tennis Masters Series, but he hasn't gotten any farther in a Masters Series event this year.

"Winning a few matches, I get more confidence," Santoro said. "I can't look too far in the draw. Because it doesn't matter today if you play a top-10 guy, top-20 or top-50, you know that the match is going to be tough, and even if you play well, you can lose."

He'll need every bit of confidence today, because Santoro has never defeated Robredo in three tries. They last played in 2003 in Barcelona with Robredo winning in two sets.

"He's a really talented player," Robredo said of Santoro, "but I can play with other things that can make him have a lot of pain. That's what I want to try to do."

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E-mail ddow@enquirer.com




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