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Let me start by saying that I love Santoro. When he plays, I grab a drink and sit back to enjoy. I am personally sad that he is getting a little long in the tooth. I heard someone the other day call him the "ultimate pusher" and it pissed me off. I'll start by sharing some of his results with you:

Santoro -- Federer 2-8
Santoro -- Djokovic 1-0
Santoro -- Ferrer 1-1
Santoro -- Roddick 1-2
Santoro -- Nalbandian 2-2
Santoro -- Haas 3-6
Santoro -- Canas 2-1
Santoro -- Moya 3-1
Santoro -- Ljubicic 3-4
Santoro -- Hewitt 2-2
Santoro -- Karlovic 2-0
Santoro -- Lopez 1-0
Santoro -- Bjorkman 1-3
Santoro -- Grosjean 8-3
Santoro -- Kiefer 6-2
Santoro -- Sampras 3-4
Santoro -- Agassi 3-3
Santoro -- Becker 1-1
Santoro -- Connors 1-1
Santoro -- Courier 1-2
Santoro -- Edberg 1-3
Santoro -- Gomez 2-0
Santoro -- Henman 2-6
Santoro -- Ivanisevic 3-5
Santoro -- Kuerten 1-1
Santoro -- Muster 4-3
Santoro -- Rafter 1-1
Santoro -- Wilander 1-0
Santoro -- Safin 7-2

Wow! Right? Totally impressive. First off, I don't think any of these players could be beat by a "pusher". I think this guy was misusing the word "pusher". IMO, there is no pusher at the pro level. Maybe the word has changed meaning and I haven't noticed. But, to me, a pusher is a player that just tries to get the ball back in play. Now a "hacker" maybe the word he was looking for. Hackers are known for their junk balls and nasty spins. When I play tournaments, I meet hackers and pushers. Pushers are in great shape and just wait for me to miss a shot. And the hackers are chopping shots, doing drop shot/ lob combos, and moving me around the court to frustrate me - they're the guys that pull stuff out of their a##. Santoro is not a retreiver; he has a weapon - he hits with a variety of pace an spin and often is controlling the point. Just ask Safin. A pusher's only weapons are his mobility and his consistency.

Hackers dictate play and pushers don't. I've watched Santoro and he can dictate play. Right? Besides, I love the shirt.

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But I think you are misusing the word hacker, no?. There aren't any hackers on the pro level. A hacker is akeen to a novice someone who doesn't have basic fundamentals so they hack the ball. Hackers don't dictate play and are not very successful players. For all purposes I would consider Santoro a pusher, Your definition of pusher is limited I think. A pusher plays an unusual game with topspin, underspin, slice, dinks etc... They try to throw off your timing by hitting unusual shots. They don't simply retrieve. Sanchez-Vicarrio and Brad Gilbert were pushers. I do not agree with you saying he often controls points that is not his style. He plays great defense and hits great defensive shots which keep the ball in play until the opponent is frustrated. You can not play with limited pace and use spins only on the mens tour and dominate play. You have to have those things and big shots. So he is not dominating play often. So your definition of pusher is just limited to what you think a pusher is but not really what a pusher is, I think. A pusher is not just a retriever especially one that gets to play on the ATP level. So yeah.
Interesting. It seems like we are saying the same things but only in reverse! LOL. All my life a pusher is someone just getting the ball back until you mess up. And that game stops working at the 4.5 level and could never work at the 7.0 (pro) level. You might want to watch some tapes of Santoro, I remember clearly him running opponents around the court - you can not do that if you are not dictating play. I agree that hacker is not quite the right word either. Actually, that is why I like words like "brilliant", "clever", and "magician" when I describe Santoro.

Anyway, we can agree to disagree. Hopefully we'll have many more like this! LOL. Welcome to Tennisopolis. Invite your friends.

Hey thanks for the welcome bro.

I was looking up some info on Santoro and watching him on youtube when I saw your blog LOL. He dictates play but it is rare. He does not have the guns to dictate often. A pusher is not a bad word my friend LOL. Pushers are some of the most hated players because they make you crazy LOL. I heard a couple of TV analyst call him this and a article in tennis magazine call him this so it is not bad LOL. Brad Gilbert was a 7.0 got into the top 10 and I think top 5 he was a pusher. Yeah bro we can agree to disagree it is fine.:)
Hey there fleabitten.
Santoro can dictate play on some occassions. Most of the time he's trying to trick his opponent, because he never plays any point the same as he does a previous one.
"Pusher" or "hacker" are just not accurate enough terms for him, however. "Trickster" should be added to the list of styles; there would be very few players in the category! But he's a hard worker. Whatever anyone wants to call him, he's a worker...and he likes chocolate ice cream.

I agree about the shirt. Also, he looks just like my math teacher from college, shirt and all.
Yes categories can be tough because some players do not fit properly. I know for sure he is not a hacker or else he would not have gotten all the way to the major leagues. I think he has pusher qualites like his returns and ground game. I think Santoro took pushing to another level and he is pretty super. The way Federer has taken the all court game to another level. I have to say this is the first time I ever heard anyone say Santoro dictates points often LOL. Santoro has low numbers in the winner and errors category while his opponents have the reverse. Dictators have more errors and winners. Defenisive players have low numbers of both. With Safin serve, forehand and backhand you really think Santoro dictates the points? LOL. You really think he dictates against Federer or anyone with power? LOL it would not be possible. No he plays good defense that forces his opponents do go for crazy shots and make errors. For exampled He may run down a shot and hit it back with crazy sidespin which throws off his opponents, that is not dictating that is playing great defense, it is a big difference. So no he is not a hacker player and he is not an aggressive player. Out of the categories we have currently the closest thing he is would be a pusher. I just think that some people do not have a accurate idea of what a pusher is and that is why they might be upset with him being called that. Pushers are not just a backboard because just about everyone on tour is a backboard these days. The main objective of a pusher is to throw of your timing and Santoro is a master of this.
I just typed out a super great bit. and then somehow lost it.
And now I'm out of energy and don't want to do it again!

To sum it up. I think we may need to define "dictate" (pretty soon we'll be like Pres. Clinton (the male one) and need to define teh word "is". LOL) When players are told they meet Santoro next, they cringe. (See records above.) This is because Santoro forces them to play his game. If he was a pusher, all they'd have to do is play their own game. Dictate does not mean power. Sure Safin has big strokes. But when he (and many of the other pros) play Santoro, who's controlling the type of game that is being played?

Am I getting anywhere with you? ;-)
No sorry:) They cringe because he gives them no rhythm, again good defense does not mean your a dictating the points, it means good defense. If Santoro was dictating everyone he played he would be winning much more often and would be number 1 in the world if he had that ability to dictate all of his opponents and the majority of points. Sorry but pushers do not play their own game they try to break down yours. By the way if you are a fan of Santoro why would you call him a hacker? I would not think a fan would say this, no? And yes in the men's game dictating points is about a combination of power and strategy. If Santoro had more power to go with his strategy he would be dictating and be much higher ranked.
OK. I guess we have to agree to disagree. Maybe I've just gotten too old and my lingo isn't jiving.

I think the word hacker has changed since I learned it 25 years ago. We called hackers people that slice and use unorthodox strokes but get frustratingly good results. I think now it means, someone not very good.

Pushers were the kids that just ran everything down and "pushed" the ball back into the center of the court until you missed. That's not what Fabrice is doing.

Obviously, he's neither of these, he's a professional tennis player, among the top elite in the world. There's that other word we can use... "magician". ;-)

Can anyone else jump in and help us out?

Thx, FB
The very definition of a tennis hacker is an inexperienced tennis player who has very little skill and experience so I can not see that it was ever something good. If you ask a USPTA tennis pro most would probably tell you that what Santoro does is closest to the pusher category than anything else. You have to remember when people use the word pusher they are saying counterpuncher. Pusher and counterpuncher are synonymous. Santoro primarily plays good defense and rarely goes for winners even when he could, but instead of hitting a winner he rather hit a shot to throw off his opponents and get in their head do to his ability to almost always get the ball back and also get it back with less pace and unsual spin, that is counterpunching also known as pushing. Pushers don't just sit at the baseline, that's a baseliner. Pushers mix it up and try not to give you the same shots over and over so they can throw off your timing and make you frustrated, pushers rarely hit with allot of pace because they know that's what most players are used to. You have to remember that a pushers main job is to frustrate you and throw off your timing they will do anything to accomplish this and Santoro is the master of this. I think your description of a pusher describes a pusher below the 3.5 NTRP level not really a professional one. I once read an article in tennis magazine that called Santoro a pusher/counterpuncher and I don't think they let unqualified people write in that magazine.
The problem faced in this discussion is whether or not Fabrice can dictate play. Both points have been made, saying he cannot dictate play on defense, since pushers/counterpunchers are defensive players. But then again in a way, he can dictate play because his game has to be played/countered in order for the other player to win. For example:
Federer can beat Santoro any day of the week, but is it as simple as walking out there and doing his thing? The answer is no. It's like that with every player in fact; there's a strategy to every player. Santoro, in that respect, is unique because he's difficult to figure out. He has no set, difinite strategy. That's not EXACTLY a way to dictate, if there has to be a concrete definition for it. But if we speak in virtual terms, as I will do for the sake of being a Santoro supporter, then he does in a way dictate play. Not saying he's overbearing and unyielding, but he can dictate.
A lot of his BEST wins and BEST losses have been close, nail-bitters. I don't think he'd have that any other way LOL. But he's gotta be dictating somewhere, in order to win some sets.

This is a good discussion!

Yeah I think everybody is a Santoro fan. I honestly have never met any tennis fan that did not like Santoro. What is not to like? He is so much fun to watch and you can tell he is a genuine guy. I think his biggest weapon is his ability to frustrate and get into his opponents head and when he wins he has successful gotten into his opponents head and broken them mentally. I wonder who would you practice with to get ready for a match with Santoro? He is the coolest!
Since we've started this... you've gotta ...
1, Love a man at his age playing great tennis at the pro level
2. Love a man who is not just playing great, but entertaining tennis... at any level!
3. Love how he beat Blake handily this week ... Hey it's only fair if Santoro gave Blake his 1st 5-set win that he would deprive Blake of 3 straight Sydney titles.


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