Life Comes To Ferrero At The Open

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.

Carroll: Open For Business

The US Open, which got underway Monday at Flushing Meadows Park, has become like the Super Bowl inasmuch as it has become a business event as much as an athletic one.

Last Wednesday, Nike took over Pier 54 on Manhattan’s West Side for an exhibition that the company labeled “Prime Time Knockout.” Nike called on nearly everyone of its highly-compensated tennis stars/endorsers including, Serena Williams (who were a boot on her injured right foot and will miss the Open this year), Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Douglaston’s own John McEnroe, to take part in some light-hearted doubles matches.

Nike officials announced that they were donating thousands of dollars’ worth of tennis equipment to a number of non-profit youth sports organization including the Woodside-based New York Junior Tennis League. While there was a philanthropic aspect to Primetime Knockout, Nike was sending a clear reminder of its dominance in tennis to such rivals as the upstart Under Armour, and the resurgent Reebok, which just opened a huge company store at the New Meadowlands Stadium.

On a smaller scale of brand promotion, Ralph Lauren Polo had Venus Williams conduct a clinic for kids on Randall’s Island last Thursday while the following day Lacoste dispatched Andy Roddick to the Macy’s at Queens Center for a meet-and-greet.

Speaking of Andy Roddick, he holds the distinction of being the last American to win the men’s championship but that was back in 2003. Two years later Roddick was the focus of American Express’s “Where’s Andy’s mojo?” campaign which embarrassed everyone involved when Roddick was upset by Luxemburg’s Gilles Muller in the first round of the 2005 US Open.

American Express has dropped Roddick this year from its signage along the LIRR-7 train Willets Point boardwalk in favor of hopefully rising American players at John Isner and Sam Querrey.

Panasonic believes that the US Open is perfect place to showcase its latest television technology as it has taken out a booth for spectators to watch matches in 3-D.

Mayor Bloomberg hosted a reception for the United States Tennis Association at Gracie Mansion last Thursday evening and among the attendees was Queens district attorney Richard Brown, former borough president Claire Shulman, former mayor and well-known tennis buff David Dinkins, as well as the 1968 US Open women’s champion, Virginia Wade.

I asked Wade, who was born in England but now lives on the Upper East Side, about the possibility of Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, the site of the ‘68 Open, being torn down to make way for condominiums. “Of course I am saddened by it but the stadium has been in a state of disrepair for a long time so I do understand the thinking of the board of the West Side Tennis Club,” Wade told me.

Sportscaster extra ordinaire, and Forest Hills native, Ian Eagle will be kept busy in his home borough. He is slated to do nine days of studio hosting Open coverage for both the Tennis Channel and CBS.