Ferrero’s farewell

As early as Ferrero [161] notched a rookie season (1999, the time of Sampras/Agassi’s decline), they said this slim Spaniard with blond-dyed hair would be a new world number 1. He showed signs of being someone special in the first dozen or so months at the main level (semifinal in his ATP debut, first title just four tournaments later, experience of playing on the world’s biggest arena in just first Grand Slam match, crashing strong Russians in the Davis Cup debut), however, I have to admit, I didn’t expect he would reach the top. In years 2001-2003 he deserved ‘clay-court king’ alias, but he was also well adjusted to hardcourts: indoors and outdoors, and in the first week of September 2003 he felt pleasure of touching the peak of the tennis pyramid. What was a basis of his successes in the early 00s that distinguished him from many players with theoretically similar potential? I think first of all his marvelously effective footwork, allowing him to dictate the pace of rallies with his most reliable shot – the forehand (one of commentators once said aptly on Ferrero: “he catches this obsessive forehand timing”. The backhand functioned almost with the same accuracy then. In the career prime-time, Ferrero was smooth in both, body motion and technique, his 2nd serve comparably efficient to the 1st one, thanks to that, despite being a baseliner, he was able to hold service games quickly, avoiding long matches which take its toll in the late stages of tournaments. Moreover he possessed rather unique capability of coming back from behind. After 100 tournaments played, he had won nine matches from a match point down – impressive stats, especially for someone who doesn’t base the game on serves. Summarizing, he owned all the tools to put himself among the most titled players of the 00s, it didn’t happen though due to a few bad months in 2004. First he was diagnosed with chickenpox, later on a fall during practice session caused rib and wrist injuries… in the meantime he became an owner of the Equelite Tennis Academy. After these accidents ‘Mosquito’ was never the same, stopped bites; he didn’t win a title for next six years, never entered the Top 10 again, enough said… The ensuing eight years were characterized by fluctuating periods of new injuries, beating the best in the world and losing to mediocre guys. Ferrero suffered this year the worst streak of his career having lost eight tournament matches in a row, and on 12 September 2012 he announced: “The Valencia Open 500 will be my last tournament, it’s the best possible stage for me to retire. Because of injuries, I was not able to play a full season and it’s been a complicated year as I could see I didn’t have the same ambition after 14 years on the tour.

* 7-0 H2H against Felix Mantilla, first six meetings finished in a deciding set, three times it was a deciding tie-break set (Ferrero saved match point twice)
* 0-6 H2H against Younes El Aynaoui before beat him the only time (their last match)
* never lost a match 6-7 6-7, but notched eight defeats losing two sets in tie-breaks
* three times was involved in matches with Carlos Moya that one of players lost a m.p.up set but won anyway
* his 7-5 6-1 over Rafael Nadal (Rome 2008) separated 17- and 31-match winning streaks of the younger compatriot on clay
* with 16 match point-down victories he belongs to a narrow group of the Open era leaders considering matches of this type
* he wasn’t keen to play doubles, just 22 tournaments, the last before Valencia ’12 six years ago
* one of four players to win three consecutive matches after a deciding tie-break set (Rotterdam 2004)
* in 1999 he won 24 straight matches on clay (19 at the Satellite circuit; 5 in Casablanca, including 2 in qualies)
Juan Carlos Ferrero in numbers (singles):
16 titles (2 Challengers),  18 finals (2 CH).
99 – Mallorca (5) & Naples, Oporto 
01 – Dubai (37), Estoril (40), Barcelona (42), Rome (43)
02 – Monte Carlo (65), Hong Kong (76)
03 – Monte Carlo (88), Valencia (90), ROLAND GARROS (92), Madrid (100)
09 – Casablanca (210)
10 – Costa Do Sauipe (228), Buenos Aires (229), Umag (241)
11 – Stuttgart (245)
00 – Dubai, Barcelona; 01 – Hamburg, Gstaad; 02 – ROLAND GARROS, Kitzbuhel, Shanghai-Masters; 03 – Sydney Outdoor, Bangkok, US OPEN; 04 – Rotterdam; 05 – Barcelona, Vienna; 06 – Cincinnati; 07 – Costa Do Sauipe; 08 – Auckland; 09 – Umag; 10 – Acapulco
Best Grand Slam results:
Australian Open (semifinalist 2004; quarterfinalist 2003)
Roland Garros (winner 2003; finalist ’02; semifinalist 00-01)
Wimbledon (quarterfinalist 2007, 09)
US Open (finalist 2003)
# He was the biggest contributor to the Spanish first Davis Cup triumph in 2000 (5-0 record); participated in two other finals
# Finalist at the year-end championships (2002)
Highest ranking: 1 (08.09.2003)
Ranking in years 1997-2011:
681 – 346 – 45 – 12 – 5 – 4 – 3 – 31 – 17 – 23 – 24 – 55 – 23 – 29 – 50.
Win/loss record:
main level: 479/262 (.646)
all levels: 566/299 (.654)
Detailed stats (main level only):
265 tournaments (years 1999-2012)
5-setters: 24-18 (.571)
Tie-breaks: 172-136 (.558)
– deciding 3rd set tie-breaks: 18-10 (.642)
m.p. matches: 16-7 (.695)
Longest winning streak: 16 [2001]
Longest losing streak: 6 [twice: 2006-07 & 2009-10]
Longest win: 4 hours, 48 min. Gael Monfils 7-6, 5-7, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4 – US Open 2011
Longest defeat: 4 hours, 14 min. Andreas Seppi 7-5, 6-3, 0-6, 3-6, 2-6 – Davis Cup 2005
Longest tie-break won: Marat Safin 6-3, 7-6(15) – Hamburg 2007
Longest tie-break lost: Pere Riba 7-6, 6-7(13), 6-2, 6-2 – Roland Garros 2010
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4 Responses to Ferrero’s farewell

  1. St-Denis says:

    Hi Voo de Mar,
    You wrote “1999, the time of Sampras/Agassi’s decline”… Well, in 1999 Agassi was the number 1 in the ATP ranking, winner of Roland Garros, US open and the Super 9 Paris-Bercy (5 titles and 3 finals) and with a W-L : 63-14 and especially he had the best stats in 2nd serve points won, in break points saved, in 2nd serve return points won, return game won and his realize his best season of his career with the aces (386). It was far from declining.
    Pete Sampras too, despite of his back problem that forced him to skip the AO and the US open 1999, he succeeded in Wimbledon, in Masters, in Super 9 Cincinnati and he had the best stats in grass and in hard, in his percentage of matches for the season 1999.
    In fact, his back problems led to the rise in the forefront of his main pursuers as Moya, Kafelnikov, Rafter and mainly Agassi. Sampras really began to decline in 2001 and Agassi in 2004-2005. It was much more subtle during this period.
    However, thank you to your tribute to Juan Carlos Ferrero, it’s a great player, after the departure of Andy Roddick, both was a number 1 player in ATP, a grand slam (the same year in 2003) and a Davis Cup winner. Since 2004, it has become so rare to see a player other than Federer, Nadal and Djokovic succeed in being number one and a grand slam champion! Congratulations to Ferrero and Roddick.

  2. Voo de Mar says:

    Yeah, I won’t change this sentence because I didn’t think about that special year literally. It’s rather a metaphorical thought with implication from the 2000 year perspective:
    – the best guys of the 90s are in the late 30s, they have the best years behind, so who would replace them at the top?

    I want to join two different approaches in these “farewell posts”:
    1st segment – subjective description of player’s career
    2nd segment – objective statistical description

    “Curiosities” functions as go-between these two segments 🙂

  3. St-Denis says:

    Thanks for your answer, yes however for me (and for a lot of people) 1999 is a special year historically (5 differents number 1, 100th Davis Cup birthday…), I guess it’s important to respect the real fact. Then, the best players of the beginning of 2000’s was Kuerten, Safin and Hewitt, it was a period of transition, it’s always like that, there have been periods of transition, uncertain (after Laver and Smith or at the beginning of the 90’s) and / or fast (beginning of the 80’s with McEnroe or maybe in few months years after Federer/Nadal/Djokovic reign). By placing them in the context of the time, Sampras and Agassi were very far from declining in 1999, “Decline” is the word that is not appropriate, even if it’s in perspective of the 2000s, I think it is not correct historically.
    In 2000, by standing still in the context of the time, it was Agassi (beginning of the year), Safin-Kuerten (from spring). In 2000-2003 seasons, it was a period of great change and bizarre, it was a long transition period with a big fight for the highest level, everyone, even Sampras, thought that Lleyton Hewitt would be the world boss of tennis during the 2000s. In 2003, an earthquake with the defeat of Hewitt (holders) in the first round of Wimbledon (defeated by Karlovic), a terrible loss for Hewitt, after the situation changed, it was the race for the position of World Number 1 only for 3 guys, booming and constants, chronologically : Ferrero, Roddick and Federer (the only winner of this fight at this long transition).
    It’s just a matter of historical perspective. 🙂

  4. Voo de Mar says:

    ‘Decline’ doesn’t mean “to deteriorate abruptly”; it means “to deteriorate gradually”.

    It’s a matter of semantics, I wrote what I wrote, you expressed your own interpretation, and thanks to that someone who doesn’t know the history, and is interested in reading it, from now on has a bigger picture, it’s a value of discussion.

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