I know this is not exactly a new discussion, but what really happened to Ferrero's game to crumble so dramatically from 2004?
I recently found this short clip on youtube of an early round from RG 2011: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbY5fCm3xD4
, and watched the first set of his AO '04 SF loss vs. Federer, and it was really amazing to look back. JCF was known as the Mosquito not just because he buzzed around the court but also because of the bite on his shots. His groundstrokes were both powerful and snappy, and his kick serve was probably the best in the game behind Roddick's between 2001-2003. You can see the dramatic height on his kick serves in that link I posted. The point beginning at 1:54 showcases the flair with which he played the sport.
We all know the story - chicken pox, rib injury, confidence, etc. Perhaps the rib injury had a more long-lasting physical consequence than JCF has addressed, i.e. he couldn't accomplish the same body torque to produce that snappy topspin. Or does it come down more to mental, that he lost his belief to go for his shots with the same ferocity?
Sad; he truly was the successor to Kuerten on clay and could have won 1-2 Slams on hard.