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Santoro Clinches 450th Match Win, Faces Amritraj For Title

Newport, R.I., U.S.A.

Fabrice SantoroMike BazFabrice Santoro In Action

Defending champion Fabrice Santoro notched his 450th career match win and advanced to the final at the Campbell's Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport by defeating American Vince Spadea 7-6(4), 6-1 on Saturday.

After winning the tightly contested opening set in a tie-break, Santoro converted on two of his three break point chances and dropped just three points on serve in the second set to secure the win in one hour and 17 minutes.

Santoro, the No. 2 seed this week, boasts a perfect 8-0 record in Newport after winning the title on his event debut last year (d. Mahut). The 35-year-old is bidding to become the oldest winner in tournament history, surpassing the record he set in 2007. He is also looking to become the third repeat winner at Newport, joining Bryan Shelton (1991-92) and Greg Rusedski).

Santoro has won five singles titles in 11 finals during his career. Last year's Newport final appearance was his first since 2002 when he won the Dubai Tennis Championships (d. El Aynaoui).

He improves to a 13-12 season record, with his previous best result the semifinals at Sydney (l. to Tursunov).

Spadea, who celebrates his 34th birthday next Saturday, falls to an 11-13 season record and a 12-7 record in Newport. He was looking to reach an ATP final for the first time since his runner-up effort at this event three years ago (l. to Rusedski).

The match between the two veterans, together 68 years in age, was the third oldest in terms of combined age between two semifinalists since 1990. Brad Gilbert and Jimmy Connors were 71.9 years combined when they played in 1993 at San Francisco, and Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe were a combined 71.7 years of age when they met in 1991 at Basel.

In the final, Santoro will face first-time ATP-finalist Prakash Amritraj after the Indian wild card battled to a 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3 win over Canadian Frank Dancevic in two hours and 18 minutes. Since 1997, 14 players have won their first title at Newport, most recently Robby Ginepri in 2003.

The 24-year-old Amritraj, who resides in Southern California, is the first Indian to reach an ATP final since Leander Paes won the 1998 Newport title (d. Godwin). He is also the second wild card in Newport history to reach the title match, joining Mark Philippoussis who won the title in 2006 (d. Gimelstob).

If Amritraj were to defeat Santoro on Sunday, it would mark just the second time that a son has joined his father as an ATP title winner. In 2002, also here in Newport, Taylor Dent won the title, joining his dad Phil as the first father-son duo to have won ATP titles. Amritraj’s father, Vijay, who is in Newport this week, won three of his 16 career titles here on the lawns at the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Amritraj has a 6-1 season record after posting wins this week over Joseph Sirianni, Jesse Levine, qualifier Rohan Bopanna and Dancevic. His previous best ATP result came last year at Newport, where he reached the quarterfinals (l. to Mahut).

 

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