Sunday, June 09, 2002

Ferrero, Costa meet in all-Spanish final

AP Sports Writer

        PARIS — Juan Carlos Ferrero's game of consistency, featuring powerful and precise groundstrokes, is perfectly suited for the red clay of Roland Garros.

        He has made the quick trip on the slow surface at the French Open from junior runner-up just four years ago to men's finalist. On Sunday, he goes for the championship against fellow Spaniard Albert Costa.

        It is the first Grand Slam final for each of them.

        “I made up my mind to win this tournament and the objective is not really achieved until you come to the final and you win it,” said Ferrero, just 22.

        “I won't really be totally happy until I do.”

        Ferrero has come close in the previous two years, losing in the semifinals to eventual champion Gustavo Kuerten.

        “I have a bit more experience this year than last. Of course, that is natural,” Ferrero said.

        His serve is more effective and allows him to win some easy points, which can be critical against a steady baseliner like Costa, who eliminated Kuerten in the fourth round this year and then beat another Spaniard, two-time finalist Alex Corretja, in the semifinals.

        Marat Safin, beaten in straight sets by Ferrero in the semifinals, sees a much different player than the one growing up in Spain, where Safin used to train. Ferrero is no longer just content to get the ball back.

        “Now the guy is attacking, he's serving well,” Safin said. “He opens the court very well with his forehand. With his backhand he plays much more straight. His forehand is much better, but the backhand is solid.”

        Considered one of the favorites before Roland Garros began, Ferrero nearly didn't get past the first round — he injured his ankle in practice for a second-round match and says he was nearly out of the tournament.

        “But finally with the help of the doctor and my friends, I could play and I'm in the final,” he said.

        His meeting with Costa marks the third all-Spanish final at the French Open since 1994, when Sergi Brugera beat Alberto Berasategui. Four years ago, Carlos Moya defeated Corretja.

        “I think it's a party, a Spanish party in the final,” said Ferrero, who knocked Andre Agassi out in the quarterfinals. “For sure we're going to enjoy this match.”

        Costa, who will turn 27 later this month, has won 11 career titles — all on clay — to six for Ferrero, five on clay.

        But if Pete Sampras' streak of 28 tournaments without winning a title seems lengthy, consider that Costa is playing his 66th event since he won in Kitzbuhel, Austria, back in 1999. He's reached two other finals in the stretch, losing them both.

        Costa won a three-setter against Ferrero on clay at Hamburg, Germany, last month and they are 2-2 in head-to-heads.

        “What I have to try is to play as I've been playing so far: in a cool way and an intelligent way,” Costa said.

        When the final is over Sunday, Costa or Ferrro will be the eighth man to win in the last eight Grand Slam tournaments.

        “I don't think anybody's the favorite in the finals,” Ferrero said.


Sports Stories
Born to be rivals, they fought for keeps too late
Lewis knocks out Tyson
Marion Jones wins 100 easily into tough wind
Saturday's NCAA Super Regionals
Croatia stuns Italy
U.S. team to enter red cauldron against South Korea
World Cup TV schedule
Attendance, handle records smashed at Belmont Stakes
War Emblem falls short in Triple Crown bid
Defense making the difference for Lakers
Nets hope familiar surroundings help Martin, Van Horn
Nets shooting woes have to end
Da Matta gets first pole at Monterey
GROESCHEN: Cup drivers to highlight Busch race
Marlin shows speed at drying Pocono
Montoya beats Schumacher in record qualifying
Ward wins Boomtown 500
Daniel on verge of major victory
Golf scores
Hiring Trottier a gutsy move
Lidstrom, Hedican win ironman awards
Red Wings 3, Hurricanes 2, 3 OT
- Ferrero, Costa meet in all-Spanish final
Serena 'one-hit wonder' no more
At home on the high seas
Coming up this week
Enquirer Page Two power rankings

Reds 4, Angels 3
Reds box, runs
Reds Q & A
Encarnacion fitting right in with Reds
Encarnacion hit by ball in practice
Griffey's hamstring injury not too serious
Reds chatter
Cinergy Moment No. 24. - July 22, 1986
Down on the farm
Louisville 9, Pawtucket 0
Ramirez closer to returning to Red Sox
Saturday roundup
John Fay's MLB rankings
Notes from Saturday's games
Milford makes statement
Time for football in June
7 athletes strong, Middies win title
Area runners come close, fall short
CovCath exploits LexCath errors
Richards finishes run to the top
Sycamore stopped 1 step from title
Norwood star signs with UC
Prep schedules
McDuffie sues Dolphins doctors