Monday, February 22, 2010

The 'Mosquito' coasts

"I think the key to my current success is the physical work I have done. ... That helps my game a lot because I get to the ball much (earlier) and can be more aggressive."

-- Juan Carlos Ferrero after winning the title in Buenos Aires over the weekend.

The 'Mosquito' won his second tournament in a row and his third in less than a year, after going winless before that for nearly six years. Last year, a countryman of Ferrero's, one Tommy Robredo, did the same thing and I thought it was going to carry over through the meaty part of the clay-court season, but it didn't really happen. However, I think Ferrero--barring injury--could have more success on the dirt. And here's why:

* He just beat David Ferrer. Now, while Ferrer hasn't seen the top 10 in a minute now, he's about as tough as they come on dirt. I would think it hard for a 30-year-old with a lot of miles on his legs to grind down one of the ultimate grinders out there, but Ferrero did in his 10th match in two weeks. Very impressive.

* Like the quote above says, he's playing more aggressive. I think in recent memory that when some of the great counterpunchers in the game, such as Michael Chang and Lleyton Hewitt, have added a tad more oomph to their shots, it's helped them stretch out their careers. There's no reason to think that couldn't be the case JCF. Plus, he has a little more size than those guys, which helps, too.

* He's a veteran. There isn't much that Ferrero hasn't seen out on tour. He's used to handling tough situations, I mean, how else would you classify winning a Slam? That should help him if he were to come across a top 10 player on clay who's not entirely comfortable on the dirt, such as an Andy Roddick or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Wins over those guys equals bonus points, which boost rankings. Plus, his clay-court pedigree outshines a lot of guys out there not named Rafael Nadal.

So, just to be clear, I think it would be tough for Ferrero to win the French because three out of five sets is a different animal, especially if he's making deep runs at tournaments up to that point. But a more aggressive game plan and playing the ranking points game could land him back in the top 10.

(Photo: AP)

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