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Ferrero Wins Roland Garros Title

Paris, France

Ferrero© AFP/Getty ImagesJuan Carlos Ferrero followed in the footsteps of fellow Spaniard Albert Costa as Roland Garros champion.

Juan Carlos Ferrero, one of the finest clay-court players of recent years, finally fulfilled his potential by lifting the Roland Garros trophy on Sunday.

The third-seeded Spaniard ended the fine run of Martin Verkerk 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 in two hours and eight minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier, where 12 months earlier he lost to fellow Spaniard Albert Costa in the final.

"It's not because I won this tournament that I am going to stop working; I'm going to try to become the best player in the world," said Ferrero, who suffered a sore shoulder prior to the major championship. "I'm going to try to win other major tournaments and become No. 1."

Verkerk had eliminated Australian Open finalist Rainer Schuettler and clay-court masters Carlos Moya and Guillermo Coria in previous rounds, but on an overcast and windy day the Dutchman’s confidence was dented and, in hitting only 47 per cent of his first serves into court, he was forced to contest lengthy baseline rallies.

"His level was unbelievable good," said 24-year-old Verkerk, who grew up on clay. "And maybe I was not playing the way I can, but maybe I did not play so good because he let me not play better than this. So I'm not happy, of course, because it's maybe better to lose in five sets or something, but on the other hand, I can say now, 'Okay, I had no chance."'

Ferrero broke Verkerk’s first serve in a gruelling opening game. Forced on the defensive, Verkerk’s forehand eventually broke down. The 23-year-old Ferrero may have been momentarily distracted in the third game of the second set, when a streaker jumped out of the stands, but he maintained his game face. Verkerk, the first Dutchman to reach the Roland Garros final, was regularly passed at the net.

FerreroFerrero, who used to train with Marat Safin as a teenager, combined penetrating groundstrokes, drop shots, an effective serve with motivation, speed and endurance. Yannick Noah, France’s last singles champion at Roland Garros in 1983, presented the trophy.

"I think he will now feel like a weight has been lifted from his shoulders," said Spain's Davis Cup captain, Jordi Arrese. "And I think that will help him win other Grand Slam titles in the United States or Australia. He has the game to do it."

Ferrero became a global tennis star in December 2000, when he Lleyton Hewitt in the decisive match of the Davis Cup final against Australia to give Spain its first title in competition.

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