Nadal, Federer honour Santoro
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer praise veteran French tennis champion Fabrice Santoro before his retirement.Paris -- Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer honoured French veteran Fabrice Santoro as the French player prepared for his 20th and last French Open adventure here on Tuesday.
Santoro, 36, announced that he will retire at the end of 2009.
World number one Nadal led the praise for Tahiti-born Santoro, nicknamed 'The Magician' by American champion Pete Sampras, describing him as "a legend on the tour".
"He plays with his very own personal style, two hands. He was a very charismatic player on the tour, and he's a model for all of us," said the Spaniard.
"Twenty years is a long career and that's fantastic. We all wish we can play for 20 years. So he had a beautiful career, and he really deserves a tribute."
Among the records held by Santoro is that of the longest match ever played in the Open era, a six and a half hour game with countryman Arnaud Clement in the 2004 French Open that Santoro eventually won.
He also holds the record for the most Grand Slam appearances and will be playing in his 67th major this week.
However, Federer says Santoro’s greatest legacy will be the joy he brought to the court.
"It's become a great accomplishment for me to play against him a great many times," said the Swiss.
"He's very talented, the way he touches the ball, hits the ball. He's one of the greatest tacticians in terms of his play.
"I've always enjoyed playing against him, and watching his matches as well. We respect each other."
Tom Williams / AFP / Expatica