Costa beats Ferrero for first major title

Albert Costa wins the French Open, beating fellow Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-1, 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 for his first Grand Slam title.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:27 IST
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Albert Costa won the French Open on Sunday, beating fellow Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-1, 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 for his first Grand Slam title. It was also Costa's first tournament title of any sort since August 1999. When Ferrero double faulted on match point, Costa fell to the ground on his back in jubilation, starting what certainly will be one of the greatest weeks of his life. He will be married Friday. "Today I just played great, great tennis," said Costa, who remained on court following the trophy presentation to sign autographs. "I don't know what happened, but I was playing very good. I was trying, trying, fighting every day. I was preparing to win this tournament. But I didn't believe in myself before." Costa dominated the first two sets against the error-prone Ferrero, winning 6-1, 6-0. But Ferrero broke Costa in the 10th game when Costa missed a drop shot to capture the third 6-4 on a cool day at Roland Garros. Costa regained control at the end of the fourth. He broke Ferrero at love for a 4-3 lead and then also held his serve at love for 5-3. He squandered one match point when he missed a forehand, but got the biggest win of his career when Ferrero double faulted. Costa, who will turn 27 later this month, won a Grand Slam title in his 26th Grand Slam tournament. His best previous finish at Roland Garros was the quarterfinals. Ferrero, 22, was playing for just the third time at Roland Garros and made the semifinals in his first two tries, but he made 60 unforced errors to only 48 for Costa. Ferrero, who sprained his ankle during practice early in the tournament, said it limited his mobility. "I couldn't play better than I did the first two sets," Ferrero said. "I thought I could pull it out. He did a lot of drop shots and I missed them. I think it was one of the keys to the match." Costa finished with seven drop shot winners, using the strategy against a player who likes to stay back and slug the ball. "I did that because I know that Juan Carlos from the baseline is so fast and sometimes you have to hit a dropshot to bring him to the net because he's not so good from the net," Costa said. After a 25-minute rain delay in the first set, Costa ran off 11 straight games. He needed just 46 minutes to go up two sets to none against a nervous and downtrodden Ferrero, whose frustrations were visible in the first Grand Slam final for each player. Costa hit an ace to hold his serve for a 2-1 lead and then breezed, twice breaking his younger opponent's serve. Ferrero's troubles only escalated in the second as the steady groundstrokes that got him the final deserted him. But in the third, Ferrero, who eliminated Andre Agassi in the quarterfinals, started putting more balls in play and his strokes became a little more consistent against his fellow Spaniard. Costa eliminated Kuerten in the fourth round and beat fellow Spaniard Alex Corretja who will be his best man Friday in the semifinals. All 12 of Costa's tour wins have come on clay where his tireless ground strokes have always made him formidable. The Costa-Ferrero meeting was the third all-Spanish final at Roland Garros since 1994, when Sergi Brugera beat Alberto Berasategui. Four years ago, Carlos Moya defeated Corretja.