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Santoro, Courier, Stoltenberg advance; "Cinderella" Boruszewski says goodbye
by Ed Toombs

Monday, Aug. 2, 1999

The du Maurier Open got under way in earnest today, as the first round matches began. The top eight seeds got first round byes and were not in action, but the likes of Courier, Chang, Enqvist and Bjorkman, as well as the ever-present Canadian wild cards, kept the fans interested.

The tournament had some unfortunate news, when it was learned that 7th-seed Marcelo Ríos withdrew from the tournament. The Chilean ex-number one had had to withdraw from Los Angeles with tendinitis in both hips, and the problem is still with him. The condition is being described now as "tendinitis in the adductors of both legs (inside thigh)." I was told by an ATP staffer this causes pain in the inside of the hips and the groin area. This is bad news for Ríos, of course, but especially at this time of the year. Marcelo has almost no points to defend this summer, and was looking at the hard court season as the ideal opportunity for him to get back up into the top 5 again. Ríos said, "I hope to be ready to play next week in Cincinnati." He will remain in Montréal for a few days to receive treatment.

The happiest guy in town upon hearing this news is Axel Pretzsch, who moves into Marcelo's spot in the draw as a lucky loser. Axel heads straight to the second round, since Ríos had a first round bye. On second thought, there might be a happier guy than Axel: Fabrice Santoro, who won today and found out that he gets to play Pretzsch instead of Ríos!

On to the matches:
Fabrice Santoro def. Bernd Karbacher, 6-2, 7-5
First round
First career meeting

Ah yes, happy Fabrice....

If you've never taken a few moments to admire 43rd-ranked Fabrice Santoro's game, shame on you. A true treasure of the tour, he is. When Santoro is on his game he will befuddle his opponent with a remarkable array of sliced two-handed forehands, delicate angles, double-fisted drop volleys and lobs. Fabrice's tasty repertoire is as varied and subtle as the culinary creations of the chefs of his native France.

Santoro was certainly on today, and the Santoro potpourri was difficult for the German veteran Karbacher to digest. Karbacher made it closer in the second set by attacking and risking more, especially with his excellent two-handed backhands down the line. The players stayed on serve until 5-5, Karbacher serving. The lanky German seemed to tense up a bit, his serve and backhands failing him now, and was broken at love on an unforced backhand error. Serving for the match, Fabrice made no mistake, setting up match point with one of his patented sharply angled two-handed forehand volleys, and converting on his second match point when Karbacher dumped a backhand into the net.

With the defeat of 10th-seed Enqvist (to another Frenchman, Arnaud Clément) and the withdrawal of Ríos, there are no seeded players separating Santoro from the fourth round, and a possible meeting with Agassi.

Jim Courier def. Rainer Schuttler, 7-6 (7-2), 6-2
First round
First career meeting

Courier started off this match very flat-footed, and missed quite a few forehands as well. Schuttler, who is not overly powerful but very quick and accurate from the baseline, was running his opponent from side to side and got off to the early first-set lead. The German served for the set at 5-4, and unfortunately played an extremely shaky game. A shanked overhead, netted volley and forehand error put Schuttler down 15-40, and Courier, with the door opened wide, barged in with a big forehand winner to erase the break and draw even at 5-5. The two played on to a tie-break, won easily by the red-haired American 7-2.

Courier now looked more energized, and raced through Schuttler to take the second set 6-1. His court movement improved as the match went on, and the timing of the trademark Courier forehands came back to him.

After the match, Courier was asked about the new calendar-year ranking system to be used on the tour next year, and it seems he likes it. "I think the idea is to create a simpler system that the general tennis public can understand. I think any kind of system where people can understand what is happening, as opposed to watching Sampras win Wimbledon and drop to number three in the world, that's a positive spin for our sport." And when asked to compare the two host cities of the Canadian Open, Montreal and Toronto: "I don't mind Toronto, I just prefer this city, it is a little more chic. But I have gotten drunk in both cities, so...."

Courier gave a courtside interview in pretty decent French after the match, which was carried over the public address system. The Montréal fans applauded as loudly for Jim's linguistic prowess as they had done for his tennis.

Jason Stoltenberg def. Leander Paes, 6-4, 6-2
First round
Head to head: Stoltenberg leads 1-0

Leander Paes, the world's number one doubles player, has not had much luck in singles in recent weeks. Upset by Eric Taino last week in Los Angeles, the toast of India had no more success here against the talented, versatile Aussie Jason Stoltenberg. "Stoltsie" was on fire: serve, returns, volleys, groundies, everything was clicking. When he missed it was a shock, that's how solid he was.

Early in the match Leander ripped a couple of dynamic forehand returns, and after that Jason obviously figured he'd serve to the weaker Paes backhand. After that, the Indian rarely had a sniff at a forehand return, and Stoltenberg's service games were pretty safe.

Still, Paes kept pace (sorry about that...) with the Aussie in the early going, notably cranking a few spectacular running forehand winners that brought gasps from the crowd (about 100 spectators at court 6). The turning point of the first set was game 7, when Stoltenberg broke Paes. Leander put himself in trouble with a couple of double faults and it was 0-40, then brought it back to 30-40 with a big first serve, then an overhead, but Jason broke him with a lovely arcing forehand pass down the line.

Paes' energy level seemed to dip after that disappointment, and Jason's confidence mounted. as he closed out the set and then broke Leander, who seemed down, to open the second. Stoltenberg sealed the match with a second break at 2-4, which was set up with a brilliant crosscourt forehand return that brought a sporting and appreciative "Yup!" from the Indian. The Aussie cruised the rest of the way to claim a 6-4, 6-2 triumph. Stolstsie's second round opponent is another serve-volleyer, a lefty this time: Jan Siemerink of the Netherlands.

Paes didn't seem too distraught with the loss: he sent a few minutes signing autographs after the match and smiling. He still has the doubles, his bread and butter, but will have to do without his regular partner, the injured Mahesh Bhupathi. Paes and Jared Palmer are seeded number one.

Epilogue: Jan Boruszewski's ride comes to an abrupt end

Ranked only 533, German Jan Boruszewski was a surprise qualifier and took on Italy's Laurence Tieleman (ranked 81) in his first ever match in the "big show". Ironically, these two were supposed to play in the first round of qualifying, but when Lleyton Hewitt withdrew Tieleman graduated to the main draw. Boruszewski advanced through qualifying and drew Tieleman again!

It didn't go too well for Jan, and the more experienced Tieleman schooled the 21-year-old tour "débutant", 6-3, 6-4. Boruszewski showed the big serve and volley game that impressed us in qualifying and the match was not a blowout, but his return was not up to standard against Tieleman's deceptively quick serve, and the veteran Italian exploited Jan's weak points (low forehand volley, return, footwork) effectively.

We spoke to Boruszewski briefly after the match, curious to find out more about this 6'6" giant. It turns out he's a gentle giant, quite good-natured and easy-going.

Jan didn't seem at all disappointed with his loss to Tielemann, regarding it rather as a great learning experience. He didn't have a chance to learn the game in the tough competition of international junior tournaments, like many pros: "I never went because I wasn't good enough," admitted Jan. Boruszewski started taking tennis seriously fairly late, only realizing at age 16 that he might have a future in the game, and is now learning the hard way in the pros.

His financial backing comes from a German squad called the Break Point Team, a group of pros that includes established players like Andrei Pavel and Axel Pretzsch, as well as younger, aspiring pros like Boruszewski. His goal: "To make money in this sport you have to be in the top 150. So I want to reach the top 150 so I can start paying them back!"

Boruszewski plans to return home to Germany for a while, since he has been in North America playing Futures and Challenger for the last two months. Buoyed by the motivating experience of playing his first ATP main event, he will continue to work on his ranking in Europe before returning the North America for some year-end Challenger tournaments in the U.S.

It turned out to be a day of double disappointment for Boruszewski, as he also lost a doubles qualifying match: he and his partner Fazaluddin Syed lost to the dynamic French duo of Clément-Grosjean. But he chalks it all up to experience. Jan's game is still rough around the edges, but he has some assets on which to build: the big serve-volley, his size, and a positive attitude. This late bloomer is a young man to watch in the next few years.