Monte Carlo: Juan Carlos Ferrero is on a roll after knocking Jo-Wilfried Tsonga out of the Monte Carlo Masters on Thursday but the ultimate test against claycourt machine Rafael Nadal may come too soon for the former French Open champion.
The ninth seed, who beat Frenchman Tsonga 6-1 3-6 7-5, has now won 17 of 18 matches on clay this year but Nadal is set to be another piece of cake.
“I would love to play him in the semi-final or the final, but right now the draw is like this,” Ferrero told reporters.
Maybe Nadal could be up for a bad surprise.
“I have more experience. Maybe my serve and my backhand are a little bit better, and physically I’m stronger than in 2003,” he said, although he would not state he was a better player overall.
Ferrero, 16th in the world rankings after dropping to 115th a year ago, reminded everyone why he won the French Open in 2003 with a display of resilience, exquisite slides and sparkling tennis from the baseline.
“I had a good start, maybe he was a bit nervous,” said the Spaniard in a courtside interview before sending signed balls into a delighted crowd.
“The third set was superb. I know Rafa very well but we all know he is the number one public enemy on clay.”
Tsonga may be the world number 10 but he broke a cord in his racket and started playing out of tune.
Pushed far beyond the baseline by Ferrero’s groundstrokes, the fifth seed was helpless in a one-sided first set.
“He (Ferrero) has always been an excellent claycourt player, every time he can he dictates the play to make his opponent run,” said Tsonga’s coach Eric Winogradsky.
After waving his arms in the air to plead for more crowd support, the Frenchman lined up a set point with a backhand crosscourt winner before levelling the match with an ace.
Winogradsky told Tsonga to eat something at the change of ends, aware the decider would be tough.
Ferrero achieved an early break of serve when Tsonga failed to retrieve a powerful passing shot.
The Frenchman broke back immediately but after saving two match points, he finally succumbed to the third by netting a crosscourt forehand backhand.