Grand Prix Hassan II
Ferrero Breaks Title Drought
by ATP Staff|
Former ATP World Tour No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero snapped a title drought dating back to October 2003 by defeating fifth-seeded Frenchman Florent Serra 6-4, 7-5 on Sunday in the final of the Grand Prix Hassan II in Casablanca to win the ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament.
Victory for Ferrero earns him 250 South African Airways 2009 ATP Ranking points and €71,700 in prize money. The Spaniard reached the top spot in the South African Airways ATP Rankings on 8 September 2003, after reaching his third Grand Slam final at the US Open (l. to Roddick).
Ferrero was returning to Casablanca for the first time since making his ATP World Tour debut there as a 19 year old, when he reached the semi-finals (l. to A. Martin).
"This is a special tournament for me," said Ferrero. "Ten years ago I played my first ATP World Tour tournament here and now I'm back winning the title. I'm very happy, it was a great week for me."
The 29-year-old Ferrero’s last title came at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Madrid (d. Massu) in October 2003. Since then, he had contested 110 tournaments without lifting the champion’s trophy. During that span he finished runner-up at six ATP World Tour tennis tournaments at 2004 Rotterdam, 2005 Barcelona and Vienna, 2006 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Cincinnati, 2007 Costa do Sauipe and 2008 Auckland.
Two breaks were exchanged early in the first set before Ferrero earned a decisive third break to close out a one-set lead 6-4. The players swapped two more breaks of serve in the second set before Ferrero once again made a key breakthrough in the 11th game to lead 6-5. The Villena resident then served out his first victory in three meetings with Serra after one hour and 36 minutes.
"It wasn't easy because Florent was playing very aggressively and I felt a lot of pressure," said Ferrero. "I wanted to take my chances and finally I could win which makes me very happy."
"It is very important for my confidence that I won this tournament. This helps a lot coming back from an injury."
Ferrero is closing on his 400th tour-level match win. Victory in Casablanca took the Spaniard to a 396-210 record. His match record in 2009 stands at 10-5, highlighted up till now by quarter-final showings at Costa do Sauipe (l. to Bellucci) and Buenos Aires (l. to Nalbandian).
The title was Ferrero’s first on clay since he captured his lone Grand Slam championship at Roland Garros (d. Verkerk) in June 2003. He improved to a 9-7 mark in clay-court finals, and to 12-16 on all surfaces. The right-hander has reached at least one ATP World Tour final in 11 consecutive seasons (since 1999).
At No. 115 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings, Ferrero is the lowest-ranked winner on the ATP World Tour this year. The only other player ranked outside the Top 100 to reach a final was Somdev Devvarman in Chennai (l. to Cilic)
The 47th-ranked Serra – one of nine Frenchmen in the Top 50 of the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings – was contesting his third ATP World Tour final and drops to a 2-1 lifetime. His two titles came at 2005 Bucharest (d. Andreev) and 2006 Adelaide (d. Hrbaty).
"It was a great week for me but I'm a bit disappointed today," said Serra. "I was nervous at the beginning and Juan Carlos was playing really well. This city is special for me since my father was born here and I dedicate this final to him."
The 28-year-old Bordeaux native, who has an 11-10 match record on the season, was looking to become the third successive Frenchman to lift the trophy in Casablanca after Paul-Henri Mathieu triumphed in 2007 and Gilles Simon prevailed in 2008.