VALENCIA OPEN 500
Nadal, ATP World Tour Pay Tribute
by ATP Staff|
Rafael Nadal flew in from Mallorca to join golfer Sergio Garcia, former Grand Prix motorcyclist Sete Gibernau, a number of fellow ATP World Tour stars, including David Ferrer, Nicolas Almagro, Juan Monaco, Lleyton Hewitt, and former greats Carlos Moya, Albert Costa and Spain’s Davis Cup captain Alex Corretja.
Nadal said, “It is a source of great pride for me to be here. You have done so much for the sport and marked the path for a generation of Spanish players. Saying goodbye to one of this country's greatest players is tough. I'm thankful for all the moments we shared together.”
ATP Executive Chairman and President Brad Drewett said, “Juan Carlos should be truly proud of his achievements across a glittering career in which he captured 16 titles and became No. 1 on the ATP World Tour. A great champion on and off the court, he leaves behind a professional career in which he accomplished everything he set out to achieve. His influence on the success of Spanish tennis over the past 15 years cannot be underestimated. On behalf of the ATP, I’d like to thank Juan Carlos for everything he has done for the sport throughout his career, and wish him the very best for the future.”
Drewett, who was joined by Laurent Delanney, CEO ATP Europe & ATP Commercial Director, presented Ferrero with a framed photograph chronicling his career after the special guests and fans at the Agora Building had watched a video, which featured tributes from Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
An emotional Ferrero, who won the 2003 Roland Garros title, said, “I could not imagine in my wildest dreams a farewell so pretty. I will never forget it.”
Ferrer said, “Congratulation on a great career. You were very influential and got me through tough times.” Almagro, who beat Ferrero in his final singles match on Tuesday, said, “Thank you for inspiring several Spanish players and for pushing me to become a professional.”
His long-time rival Hewitt said, “It’s been an absolute privilege to be here this week in Juan Carlos’ home town. He has been trying to get me here to Valencia for a long time and really the only reason I’m here is to honour you this week. For me, it is a very special time, we grew up playing together and we have had some of our biggest highs and biggest lows against each other on the other side of the net. Obviously in Grand Slams, Davis Cups, and fighting for World No. 1 at different times. I would love to call you one of my great mates on tour, so thank you for all the memories, thanks mate.”
Corretja admitted he now has a selection dilemma for Spain’s Davis Cup final against Czech Republic next month. "This afternoon I have to question the couple for the Davis Cup," said Corretja. "Hopefully, in the future, he will be a Davis Cup captain and let me enjoy my life a little more.”
Ferrero beat Corretja for his first ATP World Tour title at Mallorca in September 1999. In a 15-season professional career, he won 16 tour-level titles and was runner-up at 2002 Roland Garros (l. to Costa) and 2003 US Open (l. to Roddick). He became No. 1 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings on 8 September 2003.
Tony Martinez, his coach since 1989, admitted, "I wanted to be a tennis coach and I’ve become a tennis coach, but never in my wildest dreams I thought I would be able to do it at this level and with such a jewel."