Grand Prix Hassan II
Ferrero Aims For Return To Winners' Circle
by ATP Staff|
Former World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero reached his first ATP World Tour final in 15 months after ousting top seed Igor Andreev 7-6(9), 6-3 on Saturday in the semi-finals of the Grand Prix Hassan II, an ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament in Casablanca.
In a match featuring five breaks of serve, the unseeded Ferrero converted three of 10 break point opportunities to improve to a 4-1 lead over Russian Andreev after two hours and five minutes. He improved to 9-5 match record on the season and is closing in on his 400th tour-level match win – should he win the title he would move to a 396-210 mark.
"The first set was a bit crazy," said Ferrero. "I was happy that I was strong mentally after the break. My tennis was so so today, but I was a hundred percent mentally during the whole match. It was also very windy today."
The Spaniard is trying to capture his first ATP World Tour title since October 19, 2003 when he won ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Madrid (d. Massu). By reaching the final, he has extended his streak of reaching at least one ATP World Tour final for 11 consecutive years (since 1999). His last appearance in an ATP World Tour final came at Auckland (l. to Kohlschreiber) in January 2008.
Since his triumph in Madrid, the 29-year-old Ferrero has played 110 tournaments without holding the champion's trophy. During that span, he has been runner-up six times.
The Villena resident is also attempting to clinch his first clay-court title since winning his lone Grand Slam championship at Roland Garros on June 8, 2003 (d.Verkerk). He is 8-7 in clay court finals (11-16 overall).
Ferrero, currently No. 115 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings, would be the lowest-ranked winner on the ATP World Tour this year – should he defeat No. 5 seed Florent Serra in Sunday’s final. The only other player ranked outside the Top 100 to reach a final was Somdev Devvarman in Chennai.
"I have never won against Serra and I hope that I will succeed tomorrow," said Ferrero, who has a 0-2 record against the Frenchman. "We have played on grass and hard, but never on clay. We both haven't lost a set this week which means that we are playing well. I have two goals for Sunday. I want to win the title here in Casablanca and beat Serra for the first time. I hope that I can show my best tennis since finals are always a different story."
World No. 47 Serra (pictured) advanced to his third ATP World Tour final with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over third-seeded Spaniard Albert Montanes.
The fifth-seeded Frenchman dropped his own serve once, but converted three of five break point chances on Montanes’ serve to record victory over the Spaniard in 88 minutes. Victory for Serra avenged the loss he suffered to Montanes in the first round of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Indian Wells last month.
“I had some difficult moments in the second set when I saved break points,” said Serra. “It was important to save those and remain aggressive. He had beaten me a month ago in Indian Wells and I'm happy that I made it this time. Now that I'm in the final I want to go one step further and win another title.”
The 28-year-old Serra is yet to drop a set en route to his first ATP World Tour final since January 2006. The Bordeaux native won his second ATP World Tour title in Adelaide (d. Hrbaty) on that occasion, having clinched his maiden title in September 2005 at Bucharest (d. Andreev). He has a 2-0 mark in ATP World Tour finals.
The right-hander improved to an 11-9 match record on the season, highlighted previously by quarter-final appearances in Brisbane (l. to Verdasco) and Delray Beach (l. to Fish).
“I have beaten Ferrero twice, but I have never played him on clay," said Serra, looking ahead to the final. "I saw that he's very strong physically this week. I will have to play my game and be aggressive again.”