hamburg01portas_ferrero

hamburg01portas_ferrero

Points won by each set: [ 33-40, 29-19, 9-24, 44-43, 44-37 ]
Points won directly behind the serve:
15 % Portas – 24 of 159
18 % Ferrero – 30 of 163

Fascinating final between two Spaniards, in terms of its progress. Entering the contest, the seven years younger Ferrero [6] had displayed a terrific form triumphing in 3 out of his 4 previous events (all on clay), including two big back-to-back titles (Barcelona, Rome) after spectacular five set wins over French Open champions (Moya, Kuerten). He was a huge favorite against a qualifier Portas [42] whom he’d beaten in straight sets in their two previous encounters. Ferrero led 6-4, 2:1* when he unexpectedly lost five straight games due to great shots of his opponent. Then he won nine in a row, so there was a potentially insurmountable deficit for Portas – 4-6, 6-2, 0-6, *0:3 against a guy playing tennis of his life… Ferrero lost his vitality though, competing so many matches in a short period of time. Since Portas snapped a 9-game losing streak, the match was very balanced until the end. Ferrero was two points away from the victory leading 5:4* (30-all) when one of Portas’ aggressive forehands clipped the line helping him to get the point. In the 4th set Ferrero committed 5 of his 8 double faults, as many as 3 of them at 5-all (!) to be broken, and after a quick ribreak he made another one on Portas’ second set point in the tie-break. Ferrero began the decider being visibly frustrated, anyway he created three break points at 3-all (Portas fought them off with service winner, forehand winner, Ferrero’s BH error). Portas held, broke, and he was serving for the match at 5:3. Another twist and a few minutes later Ferrero was in front again at 5-all (30/15) – six points away from the victory – Portas delivered an ace. The second tie-break seemed inevitable as Ferrero had his third game point having saved a match point, yet Portas found a way to win three successive points and the longest game (four deuces) of the match which lasted 3 hours 37 minutes. Ferrero lost his 16-match winning streak and never improved that achievement for the next 11 years of his career. Portas claimed his first and only ATP title, being nicknamed ‘dropshot dragon’; in the final he played 32 dropshots, won 18 points in their consequence. “It’s the happiest day of my life. It was a great match for everybody,” said the 27-year-old from Barcelona. “I like to play Spanish players as we are all friends. I knew it would be hard – but I did it.”

Portas’ route to his lone title:
q Christian Vinck 6-1, 6-2 & Mariano Zabaleta 6-3, 3-1 ret.
1 Vladimir Voltchkov 6-1, 6-3
2 Magnus Norman 7-6(5), 7-6(7)
3 Sebastien Grosjean 6-3, 4-6, 6-2
Q Alberto Martin 6-3, 6-2
S Lleyton Hewitt 3-6, 7-5, 6-2
W Juan Carlos Ferrero 4-6, 6-2, 0-6, 7-6(5), 7-5

It’s peculiar that Ferrero five times defeated Portas easily, but when he lost to him twice, those two defeats he suffered in very dramatic circumstances. The second one came in Umag 2006, in the first round (at night) as Ferrero lost to Portas 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 5-7 after 2 hours 48 minutes. Ferrero led 4:1* in the first tie-break, and squandered two break points leading 3:1 in the decider.

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