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Safin kisses French Open goodbye

Adieu, Marat Au revoir, Fabrice Veteran players Marat Safin and Fabrice Santoro said so long to the French Open on Wednesday, both departing from the clay-court tournament in the first week.

sports Updated: May 28, 2009 23:08 IST

Adieu, Marat Au revoir, Fabrice Veteran players Marat Safin and Fabrice Santoro said so long to the French Open on Wednesday, both departing from the clay-court tournament in the first week.

“I didn't draw the heart, and I didn't lay down and I didn't cry,” said Safin, who reached the semifinals at Roland Garros only once in his 11 appearances, in 2002. “Terrible way to finish with the French Open, but anyway ...”

Safin couldn't find a way to get his booming shots past Ouanna, a 23-year-old Frenchman who is making his Grand Slam debut. “He was basically running around the forehand and trying to build up the point from there,” said Safin, now 29 and playing out his final season on tour. “And I couldn't find any angles to catch his backhand.”

The pair traded hard shots throughout the final set, and Safin was able to save three match points before succumbing in the second round at Roland Garros for the third straight year. The crowd was against him Wednesday, and Safin thought that might give him a boost, so he goaded them for more. “Why not? Let's play a little bit,” Safin said. “That's what I needed. I was a little bit tentative about my game today because I was frustrated the way I played.”

When it was over, though, the crowd applauded as Safin walked off for the last time. Santoro, who has made a record 67 Grand Slam appearances and equaled the tournament mark with his 20th French Open this year, finished off his suspended match from the night before on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

The completion didn't last long, but it seemed to be worth it. “Out of the 15 tournaments I have scheduled this year, Roland Garros was the one that's most scary for me,” said the 36-year-old Santoro.