| new kid on the block: Rafael Nadal
Monaco: The French Open is more than a month away but men’s tennis is already deep into Hispanic mode with Juan Carlos Ferrero pocketing a second straight Monte Carlo Masters Series title Sunday at the expense of Argentine Guillermo Coria.
Ferrero’s 6-2, 6-2 win means he can confidently hope to keep the French Open crown in Spanish hands by succeeding Albert Costa, the man who beat him in last year’s Roland Garros final.
The claycourt armada now heads home from Monaco to Barcelona, where many of the top Spaniards are based and which has turned into a production line of stars.
The 23-year-old Ferrero, from Onteniente near Valencia, eschews a move to the Catalan metropolis but confirmed after his win over Coria that home comforts are a vital ingredient, even if the top stars spend three quarters of their year criss-crossing the continents.
Along with coaches Antonio Martinez and Samuel Lopez, Ferrero has helped to set up a new Spanish tennis academy near Valencia and already 24 young hopes have come under their wing.
But if they are the present, the future has perhaps already arrived in the shape of Rafael Nadal, a 16-year-old from Moya’s backyard of Mallorca.
Nadal knocked Costa out in the second round here in straight sets, playing intelligent tennis beyond his years before finally going down to Coria.
Ferrero is already looking over his shoulder. “Nadal, he has a body like us, you know. He doesn’t have the body of a 16-year-old. He’s a guy who’s going to be well up the rankings in a short time.”
Fortunately for Ferrero, as he chases his French Open dream, this year’s Roland Garros will come too soon for his teenaged countryman. (AFP)