FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – With all the focus on the young players at this year’s US Open, it is almost easy to overlook Juan Carlos Ferrero, who went back to the future and partied like it was 2003 today in Queens.
Ferrero didn’t drive a DeLorean, nor did he take some sort of youth pills in his five set classic over the 7th seed Gael Monfils, winning, 7-6(5) 5-7 6-7(5) 6-4 6-4. Rather he did it the old fashioned way – he became healthy.
“I still having little bit problems with my hip,” he said. “I have some pain. But I played two matches, five sets. I’ve been testing too much right now. But I think I’ll be okay to play in good conditions next round.”
After winning his first round match against the 45th ranked Pablo Andujar, Ferrero fought through against Monfils, the highly ranked Frenchman, who many had pegged to go to at least the quarterfinals.
The 2003 US Open runner-up had different plans.
“I mean, this match means a lot for me because, like I said, it was a long time that I didn’t enjoy inside the court,” said Ferrero, who is now ranked 105th in the world. “Today was very physically match all the time, but I think I played the whole match a very good level.
“Maybe the serve wasn’t work very well in the whole match. But from the baseline I was trying to be very aggressive all the time and move him because, you know, his moves are very good. So it’s always tough to play against such a good player.”
Ferrero fought through trainer’s visits early in the match for his foot and then later on to treat blisters on his hands, but nothing that will hinder him in the later rounds. Instead, he thought it was the humidity at Flushing Meadows Park which caused the problems.
“Yeah, it was only, you know, maybe because it was a long time that I didn’t play such a long match,” he thought. “Also because of the humid. For skin, it’s tough to get normal all the time. Is, you know, problems of the matches. I think I’ll be okay.”
Today Ferrero reminded the packed Luis Armstrong Stadium of the player who beat Andre Agassi back in 2003 and then lost to that up and comer Andy Roddick.
“Of course the year that I get No. 1 here in semifinals against, you know, I beat Agassi,” he recalled. “I always like to watch him on the TV when I was young. So was big opportunity for me that year. Was a pity to not win the tournament. But, you know, was great.”
Yet, it was a career that was derailed by injuries recently and had surgery on his left wrist and right knee last October. After losing in the first round in Madrid, Ferrero was hinting at retirement at the tender age of 31, but held on for this Open run.
And today, the man nicknamed the Mosquito because of his fancy footwork around the baseline fought back the younger Monfils delivering back all the Frenchman could give him.
He only had two aces to Monfils 21 while keeping his unforced errors down to 52 compared to his opponent’s 81.
Ferrero will try to keep it going in the third round against 31st ranked Marcel Granollers.