Juan Carlos Ferrero defeated Florent Serra 64 75 to win his first title since 2003
The singles final was standing room only. Even the aisles were filled with spectators.
A packed house for Sunday's final made play trickier for both players
Sunday’s Holding On
There were ten breaks of serve in the 22 games played in today’s final, five in each set. Both players attributed their serving woes to nerves. Florent Serra, who faltered in two more games than his opponent, noted that his first serve was especially off today. Although the Frenchman’s overall first service percentage was actually a fairly respectable 60%, he was serving faults much more frequently at important moments.
Sunday’s “What you can do, I canNOT do better”
Both players approached the final with the same strategy: play aggressively and push the opponent behind the baseline. Almost without failure, whoever executed the strategy correctly won the point. In much of the second set, Ferrero risked being outplayed by Serra, despite returning better, as the Frenchman put more effort into pushing Ferrero back. But Serra was often sabotaged by his own unforced errors and allowed Ferrero to settle in and find his game. Serra praised Ferrero’s defense in his post-match interview. “I had to play the way he did today [to win],” said the 28-year-old.
Sunday’s Players on a Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Serra admitted that he was tight when he went on court today and stayed uneasy for much of the match. Ferrero also noted that he played “under pressure” in the beginning of the encounter and rushed through the first set before his game dipped early in the second to give Serra a 3-1 advantage. Although he found his form at the end, as he began to play aggressively by coming in to net and hitting winners off the baseline, Ferrero was still not fully happy. “Sometimes, you cannot play as you want,” lamented the Spaniard, unaware of the praise his opponent had for him.
Sunday’s Paying Your Dues
Upon falling on the ground in relief, the handshake, and throwing his racquet to the upper levels of the stadium, Juan Carlos Ferrero rushed to the players’ box to celebrate with his team. Or so it seemed. What Juan Carlos really wanted was to get the sponsor hat he had to wear during the trophy ceremony. Grupo Planificaciones Mundiales. Don’t you forget it.
Ferrero moves up 40 places to No. 75 in Monday's world rankings; Serra will be No. 44
Sunday’s Perfect Ten (Sets)
Despite missing numerous opportunities to serve out sets and matches on his first try throughout the week, Grand Prix Hassan II Champion Ferrero won the tournament without losing a set.
Sunday’s Delaying the Inevitable
Commenting on the ups-and-downs of the second set of the final, Ferrero noted that he tried hard to end the match in straight sets. He followed it up by stating the obvious about his opponent. “Maybe he didn’t want it to finish.”
Sunday’s Taking the Good with the Bad
In the post match interview, Serra twice – once in English and once in French – noted that he finds his appearance in his first final since early 2006 (Adelaide) a positive result despite the loss. But Florent was not so positive on court in the second set after losing a break advantage, yelling at himself and pointing to the sky in anger.
Sunday’s The New/Old Ferrero
It is admirable that despite his title draught – and losses in six finals since his 2003 Madrid title – Juan Carlos Ferrero has maintained a positive attitude, mounting comeback after comeback after various injury setbacks. And this week, after his Second Round win over Potito Starace, Ferrero announced that he entered the tournament in order to win it, and would not play with any other goal.
But having watched Juan Carlos for years, several times live, I noted a special confidence in Casablanca that had been absent in the last three to four years, even when he was playing well. There was less uncertainty to his shots, fewer looks towards his coach on close calls, fewer exaggerated self-assuring fist pumps after winning a key point. Whether this confidence came from a good start of the season – he came in with an 8-2 record this year on clay – or is a result of maturing at 29 years of age, the mental edge undoubtedly helped Ferrero win the title this week. And, as he noted after the match, the way he played this week, and the win itself, which has been a long time coming, are very important for Ferrero in giving him even more confidence.
Juan Carlos said early in the week that he will evaluate his long career at the end of the season, but he may have opened a new chapter in Casablanca.
More photos from the 2009 Grand Prix Hassan II Tennis Tournament.
Photos: Mariya Konovalova