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   Saturday, 25 January, 2003, 10:04 GMT
Doubles joy for French pair
Michael Llodra (left) and Fabrice Santoro celebrate
Llodra (left) and Santoro lost in last year's final
Fabrice Santoro and Michael Llodra became the first French team since 1928 to win the Australian Open men's title by upsetting top seeds Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor.

Santoro and Llodra, seeded eighth, proved too strong for the Canadian duo, winning 6-4 3-6 6-3.

We feel terrific pride in this victory

Fabrice Santoro

It was a replay of last year's Australian Open doubles decider, which was won by Knowles, from the Bahamas, and Canadian Nestor.

Despite their win last year, Knowles and Nestor have now lost six of their seven Grand Slam finals appearances.

For the French combination, it was a first major win and the first for a French team in Melbourne since Jean Borotra and Jacques Brugnon's win.

"I always had a thought that I might some day win a Grand Slam title in doubles, but now that it's happened it's just incredible against the number one team," said Santoro.

"We never gave up but we were two or three points away from losing it in that last set."

Twice there was a point for a double break against the French team in the final set before they fought back.

Knowles and Nestor, who have won 17 career titles as a team and a total of 50 between them with various partners, were bitterly disappointed at Saturday's loss.

Nestor said it was "probably the best we have played in a Grand Slam final and we lost."

"They played unbelievable," he added. "We have played them twice before and not seen them play like that."

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