Sunday, April 12, 2009
There were two players who had made it to number one in the world in their careers, won Slams and established themselves among the best of their generation. Then injuries and improvement from other players knocked them back more than a few notches.
However, the two have shown by winning tournaments this weekend there's something left.
Or is it?
I'm talking about Juan Carlos Ferrero and Lleyton Hewitt, who won clay-court titles in Casablanca and Houston, respectively. It was Ferrero's first title in almost six(!) years and Hewitt's in a few as well. I don't know how much of an impact the two will have during the season, particularly as these were a couple of minor events compared to something like, say, Monte Carlo, but it's good see them doing something noteworthy.
I've had this special spot for Ferrero for a few years now, particularly since I saw him play one of the best matches I've ever seen in person at the U.S. Open in 2000 against this guy about a year younger than him who was ranked in the top 50 at the time. Ferrero was seeded 12 or something like that, but the other guy was giving him all he could handle. It was wild seeing two young guns go at it like that. It was raining off and on that day, so they had to stop a few times. But when they would come back on the court, they would pick up right where they left off. Ferrero's speed and groundies held off the other guy and his all-court game in four sets, three of them tie-breakers.
When I got home, I called my old doubles partner back in Alabama and told him what I had witnessed. And even though Ferrero won, I couldn't help but being amazed by his opponent. I relayed to my friend:
"Dude, this Federer kid is a stud!"
(I love telling that story!)
Anyway, congrats to a couple of veterans for persevering this weekend. This old guy here's still pulling for ya!
(Photo: Getty Images)