ATP Legacy: Ferrero’s Monte Carlo Magic
“The atmosphere around the courts is beautiful,” Ferrero recently told ATP Uncovered. “You can see the sea all the time and there’s very few tournaments in the year where you have that chance, so it’s one of my favourite tournaments of all time.”
The 2003 Roland Garros champion enjoys equally happy on-court memories from the ATP Masters 1000 event at the Monte Carlo Country Club. The Spaniard clinched back-to-back titles there in 2002 and 2003, the second of which contributed to his rise to No. 1 in the ATP Rankings in September 2003.
The calibre of opponent Ferrero overcame in both finals made the achievement even more impressive. “It was very special for me to win those titles because I won against two very difficult opponents on clay,” he said.
Ferrero may have already clinched his maiden Masters 1000 title in 2001 at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, but his 2002 final opponent in Monte Carlo could hardly have been tougher. The 1998 champion Carlos Moya had taken out top seed Lleyton Hewitt as well as Marat Safin to earn his spot in the championship match.Yet a long-haul battle on the red dirt was Ferrero’s bread and butter, and a 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 victory brought him a second Masters 1000 title in style. “[It was] best of five [sets], of course, and a little bit windy,” Ferrero said. “It was very hot. I was used to playing under these kinds of conditions.”
There were no such favours from the weather a year later. After battling past top dirtballers Felix Mantilla, Gaston Gaudio and Alberto Martin on his way to a final clash with Guillermo Coria, Ferrero had to prove his adaptability in order to defend his title.
“I remember it was rain-delayed, because it was a very dark day,” Ferrero said of the championship match. “They made the final best of three because of the weather.”
The change of conditions and format had no bearing on the outcome, however, as Ferrero reigned supreme once again in the Principality with a dominant 6-2 6-2 win.
“It was an unbelievable match for me because it was no mistakes and a lot of winners,” Ferrero recalled. “it was a very clean match.”
Ferrero is now the coach of one of the fastest-rising athletes in the world, Miami Open presented by Itau champion Carlos Alcaraz. The 42-year-old believes reflecting on his own past is something that can help his 18-year-old charge.
“For him, I think it’s very important,” said Ferrero. “He’s still growing up, he’s still very young. I try to give all my experience to him.
"We talk sometimes about those matches, what I felt at that time or what I was thinking before important matches. I try to share the things that I think he’s going to need most when he steps on the court.”