Tue, Oct 21, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Clay-king Ferrero has eyes on top prize

REUTERS , MADRID

Juan Carlos Ferrero believes he can go on and prove himself as the world's top all-round player after winning the first indoor title of his career in Madrid on Sunday.

Ferrero has been regarded as a clay-court specialist since bursting on to the scene and winning his first title in Mallorca, as a supremely confident 19-year-old in 1999.

He underlined his reputation as the world's best player on clay by winning the French Open earlier this season but since then he has extended his range by reaching the final of the US Open and he now leads both the ATP entry rankings and the Champions Race.

With three weeks to go, the No. 1 ranking at the end of the season is within his sights and with the Madrid title won he is convinced he would be a worthy world leader.

"Being regarded as a clay-court specialist is not nice," Ferrero said after beating Nicolas Massu of Chile 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 in the Madrid Masters final on Sunday. "I don't like it because I think I got rid of it years ago. It was important to me to win this title because I reached finals in Shanghai and Bangkok but couldn't win them. I was able to win here and now I can say I can win on all surfaces."

Ferrero, who said he would not take part in Basel next week because of a slight groin injury, goes on to play in Paris and in Houston at the Tennis Masters Cup.

After that, he will lead Spain's Davis Cup bid against Australia in the final in November, when he will get the chance to show what he can do on grass.

"If I have enough time to practise on grass I can do well," Ferrero said. "Winning a tournament always helps to boost your energy levels for the events to come.

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