Its game, set, match for Juan Carlos Ferrero’s singles career…
The 32-year-old Spanish tennis great’s individual career came to an end with a loss at the Valencia Open to fellow countryman and friend Nicolas Almagro.
Ferrero—who announced his retirement from professional tennis earlier this year following the Valencia Open—lost in the first round of the Spanish hard-court event to Almagro by a final score of 7-5, 6-3 on Tuesday.
But it isn’t the end of an era just yet… Ferrero is still alive in the doubles draw after he and partner David Ferrer edged Carlos Berlocq and Alexandr Dolgopolov 3-6, 6-3, 10-7 on Wednesday to move into the quaterfinals.
There’s no denying Ferrero was one of the world’s best players from 2000 to 2003. But injuries began hindering his performance starting in 2004.
He enjoyed most of his success on clay, reaching the French Open semifinals four years in a row and eventually winning the title in 2003.
He also led Spain to its first-ever Davis Cup title in 2000, winning both of his singles matches in the final – played on clay in Barcelona – and clinching the victory with a four-set win over Lleyton Hewitt.
Ferrero, however, did have considerable success on the hard courts, reaching the 2003 U.S. Open final and losing to Hewitt in the final of the 2002 Tennis Masters Cup.
The Spanish tenista won 15 singles titles during his career and briefly held the No. 1 ranking in the fall of 2003.
Following his singles loss, Andy Murray, the world No. 3 and winner of this year’s U.S. Open, congratulated Ferrero on his “incredible career,” while Novak Djokovic, the Serbian world No. 2, said that Ferrero was a great player and that tennis “will definitely miss you.”
Current world No. 1 Roger Federer, who Ferrero described as the greatest player he had ever competed against, said he had known the Spaniard since they were juniors and that he was a “great player” and that the two had faced off in some “amazing matches” during their careers.
Federer, who recently became the first player to hold the No. 1 ranking for 300 weeks, first obtained the top spot after defeating Ferrero in the semifinals of the 2004 Australian Open.
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal, who is still recovering from a knee injury that has kept him out of action for months, said being in Valencia for Ferrero’s final match was bittersweet.
“Saying good-bye to one of this country’s greatest players is tough,” said Nadal. “I’m thankful for all the moments we shared together.”