"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.
An old friend of mine and I used to talk tennis for hours, whether it was our own games or what was happening in the pros. I've started Tennis Talk, Anyone? to, well, talk tennis with an even broader crowd! My name is Van Sias and I've been playing for 20 years now, and not only am I player, I'm a huge fan of the game as well: pro, amateur, you name it. I'll post links to news items related to the sport, and offer my own personal opinion, predictions and hopefully get some of yours as well.