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There's Magic in that Lense

Roland Garros 2008

Fabrice Santoro in DubaiMauricio Ramos Vázquez-MelladoUsing image sequencing, this unique photograph shows Fabrice Santoro's court coverage during one point.

Frenchman Fabrice Santoro is known as 'The Magician' among his peers. But can he really be in four places at once?

No, this is not a secret spy camera image intended to unlock the secrets of Fabrice Santoro. But it does offer a great insight into the unorthodox style of the French veteran, pictured here playing Novak Djokovic at the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships. At first he stretches every sinew to throw up a high backhand lob, which allows him time for a quick breather - midpoint, mind you - in the shade deep in the back court. He then moves forward for a one-handed forehand and lastly hits his trademark double-handed slice forehand.

No-one can capture the uniqueness of Santoro's game in one image, but this makes a worthy attempt.

During the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, one of the tournament’s official photographers, Mexican Mauricio Ramos, took a sequence of shots of ATP stars including Santoro, Roger Federer, David Ferrer, and Andy Roddick that provide a fascinating look into the movement around the court of the Top 10 stars.

“We always want to give the tournament a different look every year,” Ramos says of himself and fellow official tournament photographer Jorge Ferrari. “This is important as it keeps our client impressed with the final job."

Using a Canon Mark II, which is one of the most popular cameras among sports photographers, and a Canon 16mm 2.8 wide angle lense, Ramos placed the camera on a tripod at the back of the center court, or sometimes on the linesman’s chair... and waited.

“I was unable to change the focus or settings on the camera once the players came out onto court, so I had to use my three years of experience at the Dubai tournament in order to take the sequence of shots at the right time,” said Ramos.

“By setting the camera to a remote control mode, I was able to move from the side of the court and take photographs. The pocket wizards can be triggered from 100 meters away, so sometimes I was triggering the camera from the roof, the sidelines or even from the press office that overlooked the center court.

“Shooting a player from the baseline is better, because from the back of the court it is difficult to get a sharp action image and within the camera's focus range. Sometimes it takes several points to complete the sequence of a player’s movement, but occasionally you get the four to six frames in one shot.

“Back in the press room when you view the photographs, you immediately realize that the changes in light have affected the quality of the sequence and for this reason, I spend an average of 30 minutes on making the final touch-ups.”

In the photo gallery, Ramos captured how Andy Murray covered the whole width of the court in an attempt to hit a backhand winner past Fernando Verdasco at the net; while Spaniards Feliciano Lopez and Ferrer were forced to lunge for and chase a number of strokes in their quarterfinal.

Eventual winner Andy Roddick did all the running against World No. 2 Rafael Nadal in their night match, and Federer was forced to hit all manner of strokes from the baseline and at the net in his first-round loss to Murray.

Mauricio Ramos Vázquez-Mellado has worked for UNICEF, United Nations and a number of the world's leading publications.

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DEUCE, DEUCE Roland Garros 2008

© Mauricio Ramos

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