Photo: Juan Carlos Ferrero
Spanish tennis star Juan Carlos Ferrero, a former world No. 1 and winner of the 2003 French Open, announced here Wednesday at a media event promoting the upcoming Valencia Open 500 that that tournament will be the last of his career.
The 32-year-old Ferrero turned professional in 1998 and attained the No. 1 ranking on Sept. 8, 2003 on the strength of his title at Roland Garros and runner-up finish at that year’s U.S. Open.
Ferrero also reached the 2002 French Open final and was the hero of Spain’s first-ever Davis Cup triumph, winning both of his singles matches in the final to lead his country over Australia.
He was also a member of the Spanish squad that won the 2004 Davis Cup, winning three singles matches during that year’s competition but not competing in the final in Seville.
He won 16 titles throughout his career, the first coming at a clay-court event in Majorca, Spain, in 1999 and the last at a clay tournament in Stuttgart, Germany, last year.
The Spaniard was considered the world’s top player on clay in 2002 and 2003 and he reached the semifinals of the Australian Open at the start of 2004, but a bout with chicken pox and assorted injuries that spring derailed his bid to defend his French Open title and he never advanced past the quarterfinal of a Grand Slam event again.
Ferrero’s ranking stood at No. 50 on Jan. 1, 2012, but he has since dropped out of the top 100.
“What I’ll miss the most is competing. Competition is our daily bread. It will be quite a difficult void to fill in this new life I’ll be leading starting at the end of this year, but I have lots more things to do,” Ferrero said in a press conference in Valencia, where the Spaniard’s last tournament will begin on Oct. 21.
“This is obviously a very tough decision. Leaving behind a world you’ve lived very intensely since the age of six or seven is always very tough. But I’ve had a very difficult year, and when you start to notice on court that you don’t have that ambition and that motivation, these thoughts start to creep in,” he added.
Ferrero, a native of Ontinyent, just outside Valencia, said it was difficult to pin down the top highlight of his career.
“The 2000 Davis Cup was something unforgettable for all Spaniards. I was very young and gradually I realized how important it was for me and for the whole country. Winning a Grand Slam or reaching No. 1 are pinnacles that are unforgettable and it’s impossible not to choose those,” he said.