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21st April
written by kat

from AFP
21 April 2003
MONACO, (AFP) – The French Open is more than a month away but men’s tennis is already deep into Hispanic mode with Juan Carlos Ferrero having pocketed a second straight Monte Carlo Masters Series title on Sunday at the expense of Argentine Guillermo Coria. Ferrero’s 6-2, 6-2 win means he can confidently hope to keep the Roland Garros crown in Spanish hands by succeeding Albert Costa, the man who beat him in last year’s Paris final.
The claycourt Armada now heads home from Monaco to Barcelona, where many of the top Spaniards are based and which has turned into a production line of stars.
The 23-year-old Ferrero, from Onteniente near Valencia, eschews a move to the Catalan metropolis but confirmed after his win over Coria that home comforts are a vital ingredient of success, even if the top stars spend three quarters of their year criss-crossing the continents.
Along with coaches Antonio Martinez and Samuel Lopez, Ferrero has helped to set up a new Spanish tennis academy near Valencia and already 24 young hopes have come under their wing.
Being based close to home allows Ferrero to plug into what is most important to him: His family environment.
“I have all I need there. I have family very close, I have the academy. I have the people that I love.”
Ferrero might have expected to meet compatriot Carlos Moya in the final here for the second year in a row – but Coria stunned the second seed in the semi-final, something for which the champion was grateful.
“Coria plays more like me. He served like me, so for me it was better to play Coria. But for the Spanish people, of course, it was better to play Moya,” said Ferrero, who now is banking everything on lifting the French Open crown following his painful defeat by Costa last time out when an ankle injury hampered him.
Moya has already experienced French Open glory as well as a title success in Monte Carlo, achieving both wins in 1998.
Spaniards and Latin Americans have long dominated the clay circuit – and with Ferrero still in his early 20s and Coria coming up on the rails at 21 that pattern is set to continue, while Brazil’s Gustavo Kuerten is out for a fourth Roland Garros success despite an early Monte Carlo exit to Magnus Norman.
But if they are the present the future has perhaps already arrived in the shape of Rafael Nadal, a 16-year-old from Moya’s back yard of Mallorca.
Nadal sensationally knocked Costa out in the second round here in straight sets, playing intelligent tennis beyond his years before finally going down to Coria.
Ferrero is already looking over his shoulder.
“Nadal, he has a body like us, you know. He doesn’t have the body of a 16-year-old. He’s a guy who’s going to be well up the rankings in a short time.”
Fortunately for Ferrero, as he chases his French Open dream, this year’s Roland Garros will come too soon for his teenaged countryman.
But Spain’s championship pedigree looks assured for years to come.

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