McEnroe Defends Legends Title; Santoro's Perfect Birthday
by David Law|
John McEnroe successfully defended his Statoil Masters Tennis Legends title with an emphatic 6-1, 6-2 victory over old rival Mats Wilander in the final.
Birthday boy Fabrice Santoro, who turned 40 today, joined McEnroe in the winners' circle with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Tim Henman in the ATP Champions Tour event.
McEnroe had been in imperious form throughout the tournament at London’s Royal Albert Hall this week. He held a 7-6 lead in his head-to-head with Wilander from their days on the ATP World Tour, but since then the pair have shared many battles on the ATP Champions Tour.
“I have six titles here now and this one is as sweet as any of them,” said McEnroe after lifting the trophy. “Everyone sounds so surprised when they tell me how well I’m playing! I’m in good shape and I love being out here and winning. This place is like our Wimbledon.”
The tension was palpable at the start of the match inside the Royal Albert Hall. McEnroe soon calmed his nerves with a break of the Wilander serve, and the capacity crowd watch in awe as the 53-year-old served and volleyed his way to a 6-1 first set in under 25 minutes.
Former World Number One Wilander rallied at the start of the second set, but the accuracy of McEnroe’s net play was too much, and the Swede was unable to make inroads on serve. McEnroe fittingly sealed victory, his sixth in total at the Statoil Masters Tennis, with a knifed backhand volley winner, immediately throwing his hands aloft in celebration.
“Mats is such a great player. You give him an inch and he’ll take a mile so I just knew I had to keep the pressure on and keep focussed,” McEnroe said.
The victory is McEnroe’s second of 2012 on the ATP Champions Tour. The seven-time Grand Slam winner clinched the Stockholm Open title earlier in the year.
In the ATP Champions Tour final, Santoro defeated defending Champion Tim Henman 7-5, 6-3 to become the 2012 Statoil Masters Tennis Champion in the younger ATP Champions Tour event.
Known as 'The Little Magician' due to his crowd-pleasing trickery and innovative playing style, Santoro befuddled Henman with his variety of play throughout the final, which was played before a capacity crowd inside London's historic Royal Albert Hall.
"I am delighted just to play in this fantastic arena, so to win is unbelievable," said Santoro. "It is my birthday today and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate, especially with having my family here watching me."
To watch video highlights of both matches, go to our video page.
It is a second Champions Tour title for Santoro who clinched the Grand Champions Brazil trophy in Sao Paulo in May of this year.
The ATP Champions Tour now moves on to another South American event, with the Grand Champions Rio tournament starting on December 17.