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Santoro v Murray as it happened

Men's singles first round result:

F Santoro (Fra) v A MURRAY (GB) 12

3-6 4-6 6-7 (5-7)

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By Tom Fordyce at Wimbledon

Santoro 6-7 Murray
What was that? Murray tamely steers a forehand into the net to go 2-1 down on serve, and then bites into a huge slice of luck when a drop-shot - what else - hits the tape and just falls in. He blocks a return into the net ans then has a second helping of luck pie when a passing-shot clips the tape and flips over Fab's racquet. 5-3. He comes to the net to punch away a volley - 6-3. A lob goes long on the next Fab serve, a forehead eats net and then a little tipper of a backhand finishes the job.

Up go the crowd, up go Mama Judy and Ladyfriend Kim, and the two players engage in a slightly awkward man-embrace at the net. Hats off to Fabber, and well done Murray for picking up a banana-skin and throwing it into the Wimbledon litter-bin.

Santoro 6-6 Murray
Lovely backhand half-volley from Murray at 0-15, and he then forces Fab back to force at error deep on the backhand. 30-30. Murray aims a big forehand slapper at a weak second serve but puts it long - big missed chance - and Fab aces wide to bring around the tie-break. Hold onto your keyboards now...

Santoro 5-6 Murray
Boom-boom serving from Murray, ramped up on adrenaline after that giveway on Fab's last service game. Fab's back in the same squeeze. Big shouts from the crowd - and excited clapping as the two players come out.

Santoro 5-5 Murray
Best point of the match - Murray forces Fab this way and that - and then that way and this - and scampers himself to cut off a well-disguised drop-shot. He goes 0-30 but then tosses in a pointless drop-shot (no.341) with the rally at his mercy, and goes long with a poor lob to go back to 30-30. A rushing-in pass takes us to deuce and shouts of encouragement echo round the famous old court, but he nets a simple backhand with Fab nowhere. He blooms a forehand wide at another deuce and then nets another forehand. Cries of disbelief from the masses.

Santoro 4-5 Murray
At 0-30 it's Murray's turn to wobble. He then produces two of his best shots of the match - a dropper which rolls over and dies on Santoro's side and and a raking forehand down the line. Fab comes in on the second serve and is then passed again. Roars again from Murray - one game away from the second round.

Santoro 4-4 Murray
There was a chance there - 30-30 and Fab is wheezing like Keith Floyd - but the wilyness defeats the young thrust, and Santoro scrapes through.

Santoro 3-4 Murray
Murray thrashes down a 134mph ace at 30-30 to roars of approval. A self-satisfied man in the crowd wearing a large black Afro wig and Elvis shades sticks his tongue out ostentatiously.

Santoro 3-3 Murray
Lovely from Fab - he somehow reaches a disappearing forehand from Murray and then finds the wrist-strength to flip the ball back and round for a cross-court winner that has Murray shrugging his shoulders in disbelief. Another show-stopper drop-volley later and he's level.

"Hi guys. I've been listening to your talk about Santoro's age - 35 is nothing! Shouldn't you lot be shouting more for the old guy? Pete, 38, from Leicester and thinking of turning pro

Santoro 2-3 Murray
Murray holds to love again. Santoro can't get a sniff there at the mo. Back on his chair, he removes his cap, ruffles his hair with his towel and stares ruminatively into the middle-distance.

Santoro 2-2 Murray
Glimpses of another break, but Fab slices to safety.

Santoro 1-2 Murray
Fab's staring down the wrong end of 0-40 within moments, scurries to save one but is powerless when another decent first serve cannons in. Murray's only lost three points all match when his first serve has landed.

Santoro 1-1 Murray
Fab nets a net-volley to go to 15-40. Murray hits tape with a flicked cross-court attempter and then goes long with an angry forehand to go back to deuce. He races down an angled forehand put drifts his reply fractionally wide. Missed opportunity.

Santoro 0-1 Murray
Murray fails with drop-shot no.17 (I've lost count, to be fair - consider that a ball-park figure only) but batters away a fierce overhead to push on. Fab's looking a little drained - the hair sticking out from under his white cap is now plastered to his forehead.

SECOND SET

Santoro 4-6 Murray
Murray runs down a half-hit overhead to pass Fab at the net and go to 15-30. He then has set point with a whipper of a forehand down the line, but Fab punches away two lovely volleys with his nose on the net to stay alive. Fab produces another dreamy volley to save a second set point but mis-hits a backhand and is then lobbed with brutal delight by Murray to concede the second set. Brilliant shot on that big point, and Judy Murray clenches fists at son no.2 as he roars back at the ovators.

More from Tim on his period as Fab's landlord: "He was moving to London, so I said 'I've got a nice flat overlooking the Thames.' He stayed there for a couple of years. When he won the Australian open doubles I tried to put the rent up, but he wasn't having it."

Tim Henman and John McEnroe
Henman and McEnroe on the mic

Santoro 4-5 Murray
That's changed things. Murray barrels down an ace after producing a remarkable smash-winner from a Santoro top-spin lob, and now it's Fab's turn to be up against it.

Santoro 4-4 Murray
Right on cue, he delivers - coming to the net to angle away a backhand volley and snatching back the break when Fab's slicey forehand drifts wide.

Santoro 4-3 Murray
That's a better hold. The sun is now hidden behind a blank banner of white cloud, but Murray needs to start turning the heat up on the Fab serve.

Tim Henman, BBC TV: "Santoro was my tenant at one stage - he rented a flat from me when he was here. I know him well, he's a good friend of mine."

Santoro 4-2 Murray
"ARGHH!" screams Murray, as Fab holds with more cheeky ease. The crowd are far from partisan over this - there's the occasional yell from the back for Murray, but there's nothing the casual British tennis fan likes more than a charming foreigner with a penchant for lobs, drop-shots and cartoonish body language.

Santoro 3-2 Murray
Murray's looking a fraction rattled. Marat Safin famously said that he'd rather die than play Santoro again, and while Murray's not quite in the Saf-state yet, he's chuntering like an old man on a bus.

Santoro 3-1 Murray
Good hold from the old fox. Murray's struggling with the back-to-frontness of the Fab style - every forehand is sliced and every backhand top-spun. He's the Kevin Pietersen of aged French tennis players.

Santoro 2-1 Murray
That's more like it - a rapid-fire service game iced off with a crunching, almost cover drive-like half-volley winner from the back of the court. Shadows now stretching halfway across Centre Court.

Santoro 2-0 Murray
Murray needs to be a little careful here - he's trying to hit too many big shots, while Fab is as patient as a meditating monk. A few rows back, a large woman wrapped in a blanket-like white cardigan sips delicately from a beaker of barley-water.

Santoro 1-0 Murray
Fabrice isn't about to fall asleep on his first ever performance on Centre Court - he leaps like a trampolined flea to bury an overhead and then produces a sensational backhand pass from almost behind himself at break point. Murray is stunned, and that's the fifth break of serve in the match already. What's this - the women's doubles at the French Open?

FIRST SET

Santoro 3-6 Murray
Murray races to 0-40 with two sublime blocking returns off the middle of the middle of the middle of his racquet, misses with a forehand blaster and then takes the set when Fab over-reaches on his two-fisted forehand. Warm applause from the contented crowd. The combination of his squint into the evening sun and his wild curls are giving Murray the look of Beavis, as in and Butthead. Unfortunate.

Santoro 3-5 Murray
Super touch from Murray at the net - a casual half-volley that floats over the net before dropping like a stone. The Murray serve is also kicking hard. Fab scratches his head in Gallic fashion.

Santoro 3-4 Murray
When Fab wanders in, Murray's happy drilling dippers past him on either side. But when the rallies linger, Fab's cunning comes to the fore. Murray engineers break point with a crisp backhand volley but then gets drawn in a 25-shot pat-a-cake exchange that ends with a passing-shot that flies wide. Fab's second double-fault sets up another, a fine volley off his trainers' tongues saves it, a Murray ripper wide opens another glimmer and a lovely backhand cross-court service return finally snatches the break back. Murray barks a gruff "YES!" and strides to his chair with righteous purpose.

Santoro 3-3 Murray
Ouch - a blonde line-judge bends to avoid a Murray ace down the middle and clocks it bang on the bonce. The ball rebounds into the crowd, and the judge resumes her position without so much as a gasp. Murray looks to be cruising at 30-15 but loses concentration and slaps a simple backhand into the net. When he misses with drop-shot no.6 - I underestimated badly earlier on - Santoro has his break back. Entertaining battle, this one.

Santoro 2-3 Murray
Lovely running forehand cross-court dipper from Fab to hold with Gallic flair. In the VIP slots, Murray's ladyfriend Kim Sears is hiding moodily behind oversize Aviators, not a look Lucy Henman ever attempted.

Santoro 1-3 Murray
It's a little like watching a late-evening veteran doubles, this - all sliced drop-shots, ambitious lobs and forehand flourishes. Murray tosses in droppers four and five and holds to build the gap.

Santoro 1-2 Murray
Super conjuring from The Magician - Murray threads a running backhand over the tape to work a break point but loses it to a wonderful forehand lob that flies high before swooping low like a swallow. Santoro is so relaxed that he's got his hands in his pockets as the ball lands in. Murray passes him again as the old stager trundles to the net, and a crowd-pleaser of a forehand lob steals the first break of the match.

Santoro 1-1 Murray
First drop-shot from Murray, and a solid hold. Let's have a sweep on the number he tries this evening - I'll plump for a round 20.

"When it comes tennis & Britain, we have no choice but to put all our eggs in one basket. Come on Andy! Bring it home laddie!" From Ryan NW on text

Santoro 1-0 Murray
Lovely backhand top-spin lob from Fabrice to take his first service game. If you haven't seen Santoro before, he plays double-handed on both sides. In fact, if you haven't seen Santoro before, you need to get your cheeks in gear - he's 35 now, and the only man older than him in the draw is Jonas Bjorkman, who's just announced his retirement.

1722: Murray arrives, hair as curly-large as mid-period John McEnroe. Sadly for him, Centre Court is half-empty - the conveniences on the upper level are rammed after well-hydrated fans dashed out after the conclusion of the Nadal master-class.

1720: What do you mean, you're off home to watch it on the telly?

see also
Becker sends Davydenko crashing
24 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Sharapova safely into round two
24 Jun 08 |  Tennis
John McEnroe on Wimbledon
23 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Live - Wimbledon day two
24 Jun 08 |  Tennis


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