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19th April
2003
written by kat

from Times Online: Neil Harman, Tennis Correspondent in Monte Carlo
19 April 2003
It is the curse of the modern Spaniard that there prevails a horribly narrow-minded view of them and the way they play the game humdrum tennis with a ho-hum reaction. Juan Carlos Ferrero is doing his best to change all that but, short of becoming a serve-and-volleyer overnight, how can it be done? He’s tried dying his hair a fluorescent shade of yellow but that didn’t work.
Believe it or not, Ferrero is to Spain every bit the blond bombshell David Beckham is in Britain. His performance in the 2000 Davis Cup final afforded him princely status. When he ventures out in the big cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, Ferrero has to be careful where he goes, who he goes with and what is poured into his glass. The third best player in the world behind Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi dare not let his guard drop. It is only when he occasionally goes home to Villena he can become again “Chavalito”?his nickname of “little kid”.
The last time the kid let his hair down ?”I really have to do it, even though I am a professional sportsman” ?was the week before the American spring events, since when he hasn’t spent a moment on anything but toiling to perfect his enormously powerful game. And from this championship, the Monte Carlo Masters, where he is defending champion and reached the semi-finals yesterday with a 6-0, 6-2 annihilation of Alberto Martin, his compatriot, he will have just one week off until the end of Wimbledon.
Some would say it is a suicidal schedule. “It is too much, of course it is,” Ferrero said, “and there will be a couple of times when I will be happy to lose in the semi-finals. But I must play Barcelona and Valencia ?they would eat me if I didn’t ?Rome and Hamburg are Masters Series events. Then it is the French Open, some time on grass and then Wimbledon.”
The All England club has been good to him in the past. “I have only played on Centre Court or No 1, I don’t know why,” he said. “Last year, when I was ninth seed, they put me on Centre against Jeff Morrison, of the US. But it is a beautiful experience. Just to walk on to the court, the players wearing the white clothes, everything so right. And last year, (David) Nalbandian reached the finals. He was playing with the same racket as me, the same strings, so why not me?” It does not seem that preposterous that Ferrero may become the first Spanish winner since Manolo Santana in 1966. More probable would be him clinching his first grand-slam title at Roland Garros, where he was beaten in the final in 2002 by Albert Costa. Ferrero revealed for the first time that he required 45 injections in his ankle during the two weeks in Paris after turning it in practice after his first round. Why didn’t he speak up at the time? “I said something in my press conference after my second-round win about being injured but my opponent (Nicolas Coutelot, of France) said it couldn’t be true when I moved so well, so what was the point saying any more? I know myself how much it took for me to play but when it came to the final, Albert made it impossible for me to get anywhere near the ball.”
After so much anaesthetic in his ankle, other parts of his body began to react. Ferrero has had troubles with his shoulder and his abdominal muscles. Even now, he has to have the ankle heavily strapped before matches. “This game is 50 per cent mental, 45 per cent physical and five per cent tennis,” he said. “If I play (Carlos) Moya in the final tomorrow, I know his forehand is unbelievably strong and he will make me run a lot. You must be prepared.”

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