Tuesday, August 08, 2000

Tennis notebook

Ferrero: Quick loss, bright future

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — The first time Alex Corretja saw fellow Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero play, he had a pretty good view.

        It was the finals at Mallorca last September. Corretja was No.11 in the world. Ferrero was 19 years old.

        “The guy just kicked me in the head,” said Corretja, 26, who lost in three sets. “It was his breakthrough. When we did the ceremony after the final, I said, "A star was born.' I realized the guy was pretty good.”

        Ferrero, the No. 12 seed at the Tennis Masters Series Cincinnati, was upset Monday by Arnaud Clement of France 6-4, 6-2, but he is one of the sport's rising stars. His may be the least familiar name among the top 10 players in the ATP Champions Race (he's ninth).

        The veteran Spanish players say Ferrero may end up being the best ever from their country.

        “That may be one of my goals, to be one of the best Spanish players, but my real goal is to be the world's best ever tennis player,” Ferrero said through an interpreter.

        PALS: Corretja and fellow Spaniard Albert Costa are the best of friends. Their girlfriends are close, too. The four vacation together. The two players have each bought property in a small town outside of Barcelona, where they are having homes built next door to each other.

        Today, Corretja and Costa will be playing doubles together for the first time this year. They will compete in the Olympic Games in singles and doubles and need the practice. Tournament chairman Paul Flory gave them a wild card into the doubles draw.

        “I met him 15 years ago,” Costa said of Corretja. “We know each other very good. We played juniors together. We practiced together in the federation. The last three or four years, we have gotten close.”

        The two squared off in the quarterfinals in Scottsdale in March. Costa won 6-2, 4-6, 7-6.

        “We fought, like, unbelievable,” Costa said.

        Said Corretja: “I had match point. ... When we're on the court, we fight to the end. But afterward, we have a huge embrace. The night before we spent together, watching a movie in the hotel room and ordering pizzas.

        “We believe tennis is not the end. It's not the most important thing. The most important thing is to be polite and respectful with everyone.”

        DOWNGRADE: Carlos Moya was the No.1 player in the world just 17 months ago. He finished in the top 10 in 1997 and '98. Last year in Cin cinnati, he was ranked 10th.

        But a back injury suffered at the 1999 U.S. Open has affected Moya most of the past year. He is 19-13 and No. 43 in the ATP Champions Race.

        He knows things have changed. Last year here, he was given a courtesy Mercedes-Benz. This year, he's in a Buick Century. “Hopefully next year I will drive a Mercedes,” he said after beating Karin Alami 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-4.

        PLAYER ZONE: The players' lounge includes a new “Player Zone” area to help players kill time. They can play video games, surf the Internet, check e-mail or watch videos.

        NEW ADS: The ATP Tour is launching a major ad campaign to promote its up-and-coming players. The “New Balls Please” ads are running in newspapers and on billboards in cities playing host to upcoming ATP tournaments.

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