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Chris Chase

Game Point: The man who played the most Grand Slams ever

Chris Chase
Busted Racquet

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Game Point is Busted Racquet's daily roundup of the facts, figures and links about the 2009 U.S. Open.

Any guesses as to which player had played in the most Grand Slam events in the Open era? If I gave you 50 such guesses, you'd be hard pressed to come up with the answer.

The retirement of two-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin garnered most of the headlines yesterday, but another tennis legend was also hanging up the racquet after a recent defeat. France's Fabrice Santoro played in his final Grand Slam event yesterday, a fact that takes on special meaning because Santoro holds the record for most appearances in a major tournament. His loss yesterday to Juan Carlos Ferrero caps a long career that didn't have the conventional success we attribute to tennis greats (No. 1 rankings, multiple Grand Slam titles), but one that was pretty amazing in its own right:

Love -- This U.S. Open was Santoro's 69th overall, the most for any man in history during the Open era. His first appearance was in the 1989 French Open. The 17-year old who won that tournament, Michael Chang, has been retired for six years and has already been inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

15 -- This was Santoro's 45th consecutive Grand Slam. For comparisons sake, Roger Federer is currently playing in his 40th straight major. Rafael Nadal had to begin his streak again after missing Wimbledon with a knee injury.

30 -- Santoro peaked at No. 17 in the world rankings in 1997. He leaves tennis ranked No. 44. While his ranking fluctuated, at no point in the past dozen years had Santoro fallen before No. 85 in the world. Only two times since 1990 had he failed to finish in the year-end top 100. And despite only making it to one quarterfinal in his 69 Grand Slams, Santoro can boast that he beat 17 players who were once ranked No. 1, including Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Ivan Lendl and Roger Federer.

40 -- The Frenchman said his game, which relied heavily on guile and slices, "belongs in the '70s". He was nicknamed "the magician" for his slight of hand and ability to return almost any serve his his way.

Game -- Upon his retirement, Santoro said:

"I picked up a racquet when I was six. Thirty years later I'm going to quit.

Now I'm going to change. I want to be home. I want to see my friends, spend more time with my daughter.

She went to school for the first day yesterday and I was not there. I was playing the US Open and I was not able to be close to her. You miss some things of your private life but your pro life is very intense.

I was very lucky to live this way because it was a great experience to go around the world and meet new people, new cultures. The bad point is that I'm very far from home. That's pretty tough for me, especially since I'm a dad."

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