Fabrice Santoro came out of his month-long retirement to play the 2010 Australian Open and nab the record for playing majors over four different decades. He didn’t embarrass himself against the 14th seed and dark horse favorite, Marin Cilic, losing 5-7, 5-7, 3-6, and can return to retirement with a feather in his chapeau and prospects of a busy exhibition schedule.
Fabrice had this to say after the match:
Q. Of all the players you named, could you single out who was the best in those four decades?
FABRICE SANTORO: It’s always really difficult to compare generation. But when you look at McEnroe, was a genius on the court. What he was doing on the court was amazing. Uhm, but when you look at the matches, we were lucky to see in the past two years with Roger/Rafa, the big Grand Slam final we had, Wimbledon, here last year. When you look at Sampras. It’s very tough to make a ranking.
But I will say that the best opponent I ever had is Federer.
Why couldn’t Fabrice have been Roger Federer’s opponent today? Instead of the fawning Frenchman, the No. 1 seed faced Russian Igor Andreev – the guy with the pretty girlfriend* and the ugly – but effective – game. For the better part of three sets, the Russian shoveled his forehand into Roger’s backhand like a pirate hot on the scent of buried booty. And he almost dug some up.
But Roger eventually prevailed: winning the match 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/2), 6-0. He admitted he got “lucky” to win the third set – Igor flubbed three set points and Roger nabbed it in the tiebreak before flying through the final set.
*Igor was asked about his sweetie and yesterday’s Sharapova-killer, Maria Kirilenko, after losing to Federer:
Q. Yesterday your friend Miss Kirilenko said you had urged her to make a loud noise to enter the year. She said she did that and now it was your turn.
IGOR ANDREEV: She put too much pressure on me. (Laughter.) Like after she win the match she said, Okay, now it’s your turn. No, I was happy she won yesterday. She won because ‑‑ not only because she won, but she played very good match. Very good tennis.
Speaking of pressure, until today Roger Federer hadn’t lost a set in the first round of a major in over six years. “I didn’t know that,” Roger said to ESPN’s Chris Fowler. “People remind me.”
Serena Williams didn’t need to be reminded of her impressive first round streak after dominating Urszula Radwanska today – she’s very aware of the fact that she’s never lost in the first round of a major.
SERENA WILLIAMS:”I was a little nervous today because (the streak) is always on the back of my mind. Records are meant to be broken.”(smiling) “So I’m like, God, I hope this record is not to be broken. It’s my personal record. I don’t know if it’s any record. But my personal record, I just don’t ‑‑ I want to just keep that up.”
Hopefully that right leg will keep holding her up. Yikes!
Big sister Venus Williams is also through what many thought would be a tricky first round for her. She took out Lucie Safarova 6-2, 6-2.
Nikolay Davydenko destroyed German qualifier Dieter Kindlmann in his first round match: 6-1, 6-0, 6-3. Reading his pressers it seems that reporters are getting punchy with the Russian, who entertains with his blunt proclamations in broken English. Between the now-routine questions about his love of wife and prize money, we get this gem:
Q. Since you won the Masters, are you more recognized in the street? Do you sign more autographs?
NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: I hope not. Then is not so many like say celebrity guys. I am not Paris Hilton. I don’t want to be like this. I don’t want to be like Nadal, Federer. These guys I never see by breakfast. They stay in the room and take room service.
For me better go downstairs, you know, take breakfast, or dinner to go somewhere, not to be so much famous.
Kolya “not Paris Hilton” Davydenko prefers to be mistaken for an inanimate object:
“I want to keep this level, like PlayStation,” he explained to reporters. “Like Del Potro tell me now I am like PlayStation 3 in London. Now I try to come level PlayStation 4, to be faster and faster. I hope I can do this. It’s very important to me.”
The biggest upset of the day as of post time came on Show Court 2 – Robin Soderling was beaten in five sets by Marcel Granollers, (a.k.a. “Granola Bar” in Brad Gilbert-ese.) American Sam Querrey lost to Rainer Schuettler in four.
Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic avoided upsets, winning their matches in straights. James Blake, John Isner, Gael Monfils, Stan Wawrinka, Tomas Berdych, Sam Stosur, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Fernando Verdasco, David Ferrer and Tommy Haas are all through. Juan Monaco beat Ernests Gulbis in three.
At post time Melanie Oudin is trying to finish off Alla Kudryavtseva (with Terrell Owen cheering her on in the stands.) Novak Djokovic has yet to take to court against Daniel Gimeno-Traver. So Roger’s four set stumble will likely be the big news of the day.