Mosquito gets Grand Slam monkey off his backPosted: Sunday June 08, 2003 6:09 PM
PARIS, June 8 (Reuters) -- Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero collected his first Grand Slam title on Sunday and in the process shed all the doubts that have plagued him on big occasions in the past.
Ferrero's 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 demolition of Dutchman Martin Verkerk in the French Open final proved to the Spaniard that he can deliver under pressure.
Last year, he was also heavily favored to beat compatriot Albert Costa in the Roland Garros final but succumbed in four sets.
The 23-year-old also lost a five-setter against Australian Lleyton Hewitt in the final of the Masters Cup in Shanghai last November.
If not quite a choker, Ferrero certainly felt he had something to prove to himself.
But this time, there was never any doubt about his victory.
One atrocious backhand volley apart, the world No. 3 produced tennis perfection on a blustery centre court.
Ferrero wore a look of utter conviction throughout against Verkerk and simply did not give his Dutch opponent a chance.
His newfound confidence was summed up when, after breaking to love with a searing forehand down the line to lead 5-2 in the third set, he turned to face his coach and family and clenched his fist.
Then, like the king awaiting his imminent coronation, Ferrero acknowledged the applause of the crowd as he walked out to serve for the match.
"I was feeling a lot of emotions, a lot of joy for people around me, my family and my coach.
"I was looking at the ground and thinking, 'This is in my pocket and no-one can take it away from me.'"
"I got to the finals in Shanghai and the French Open last year. When you lose those finals, you lack a little something.
"But now I have won. I can relax a little more. When I lost before, I was the best player I could be at that moment. But I could not beat top players like Hewitt. I showed today I can be at their level."
Ferrero says becoming world No. 1 is his priority, although Sunday's win will leave him still third in the current rankings. He is also turning his attention to the next Grand Slam event -- Wimbledon in two weeks' time -- on grass, his least favorite surface.
"Now that I have won this tournament, I want to be No. 1 -- that is my top priority," he said. "This is the closest I have been to the top spot."
"I am trying to become the best in the world.
"Hewitt is my main rival. [Andre] Agassi is getting older, maybe in two years he will think about retiring. But Hewitt is one year younger than I am, so he will be on the tour longer to fight against me.
"Having won this tournament, I want to win another. I can think about the U.S. Open, Australia and Wimbledon because I want to win the Grand Slam.
"I am going to do some practice on grass in Spain, and then I am going to win Wimbledon, right?" he added, with a wry smile. "It would be nice."
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