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Old 06-27-2005, 10:20 PM   #44
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Default Re: Juanqui News and Articles 2005

Ferrero and Coria adjust to challenge set by grass
By Paul Newman at Wimbledon
27 June 2005


It was probably the shortest exchange at any post-match press conference at this year's championships. "You - fourth round," the questioner pointed out in surprise to Guillermo Coria after his five-sets victory over Jurgen Melzer on Saturday. The No 15 seed, speaking in English for the only time, had a one-word answer: "Unbelievable."

The transition to grass is always a huge challenge for slow-court specialists like Coria, who until this year had never gone beyond the second round at Wimbledon. Yet here he is in the last 16 alongside Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero, who stood alongside the Argentinian at the helm of clay-court tennis until Rafael Nadal pulled on his pirata shorts and stormed their ship.

Today's fourth-round matches offer an intriguing contrast of styles as Coria and Ferrero take on, respectively, Andy Roddick and Roger Federer, the top two seeds and last year's finalists. Not so long ago the results would have been virtually a foregone conclusion, but a number of factors have helped to smudge the demarcation lines that used to be painted so boldly across the modern game.

Tim Henman is among those who have lamented Wimbledon's preference for ryegrass, which has slowed the courts here, while the athleticism of the current generation has made it more difficult for serve-and-volley men to put the ball away. The end result is that many of the best grass-court players prefer to play from the back of the court, which is the natural domain of the clay-court specialist.

Adapting to the surface is still a challenge; Nadal, for one, did not appear able to get his head round the idea that you cannot slide into your shots here. However, Ferrero, who kept coming to Wimbledon through the years when some of his fellow Spanish clay-courters stayed away, and Coria have shown a determination to develop their game on grass.

French Open champion in 2003 and runner-up at the US Open in the same year, Ferrero is trying to work his way back up from his current world ranking of 31 after suffering crises of fitness and confidence last year. He took heart from his performances earlier this month on grass at Halle, where he reached the quarter-finals, and from his form here two years ago, when he also reached the last 16.

Ferrero played beautifully in the latter stages of his 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 victory over Germany's Florian Mayer on Saturday. What he lacks in power, the 25-year-old Spaniard makes up for in the guile and precision of his ground strokes: if he were to play in the Real Madrid team which he supports, he would be a Zinedine Zidane rather than a Ronaldo.

Even though his serve lacks weight, Ferrero can still impart clever disguise, as Mayer discovered when he was aced at 100mph, snail's pace among the modern men. Quick off the mark and exceptionally light on his feet (his nickname is "Mosquito"), Ferrero left Mayer gazing in shock and admiration when he chased down one apparent lost cause and hit a deft passing shot down the line.

Although Ferrero has won three of his eight previous matches against Federer, he has lost five of the last six and acknowledges the Wimbledon champion's supremacy on grass. "He's playing so well on this surface, but I'm playing well here and I'll go into the match well motivated," Ferrero said. "The last time I played him [in Dubai in February] I had two match points on a hard court. If I play well I think I have a chance to put up a good fight."
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