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Santoro Wins Dubai Open

March 3, 2002

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) _ Fabrice Santoro overcame flu so bad he went to a hospital for treatment to beat Younes El Aynaoui 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 for the championship of the Dubai Open on Sunday.

Santoro almost withdrew from the championship because of vomiting and was at the hospital just 1 1/2 hours before the final.

``This is the most amazing match I have played in my career, as I was very weak before the final and thought I would have to withdraw,″ Santoro said. ``I haven’t eaten or drunk anything for the past 24 hours and I was given an injection by the doctor in the hospital. ...

``I have never felt so bad or weak in my life.″

The 29-year-old Santoro said he may have become ill from something he ate. He said he took a shower and ``I felt better and thought I will play and see how it goes.″

Santoro had only two aces but neutralized El Aynaoui’s forehand.

In the third set, Santoro dictated the tempo despite a double fault in the opening point of the first game. Both players held serve until the eighth game when El Aynaoui faltered after leading 40-0.

In the opening set, Santoro broke in the seventh game to lead 4-3. Santoro won his next service game and held a 24-point service game in the 10th to capture the set.

El Aynaoui started the second set with an ace and broke in the fourth game to lead 3-1. The Moroccan was broken in the seventh game. El Aynaoui broke in the eighth game and soon evened the match.

In the doubles final, top-seeded Mark Knowles of the Bahamas and Daniel Nestor of Canada rallied past Australians Sandon Stolle and Joshua Eagle 3-6, 6-3, 13-11.

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