Whether on the pages of Maria Sharapova's new memoir, or in Alexander Zverev's courtside box, or here at the Royal Albert Hall, Ferrero seems to have been everywhere in tennis these past few months.
Writing in her book, Unstoppable, Sharapova discloses how her crush on Ferrero - she describes the Spaniard as "lanky, not too tall, with tousled hair, dark but dyed blond, and warm, mischievous eyes" - inspired her to win the 2004 Wimbledon women's title at the age of 17. When Ferrero said before the tournament that Sharapova could win Wimbledon, he couldn't have guessed at the effect it would have on the Russian. "It was magic to hear Juan Carlos say my name, especially in that Spanish accent of his. It's silly but I kind of hung on to that memory for the rest of the tournament. It gave me a little extra confidence and motivation," she writes. "I was not just winning. I was proving that Juan Carlos Ferrero had been right to believe in me."
In July this year, Ferrero joined Zverev's team, becoming the latest super-coach in men's tennis. Still only 20, Zverev has had a speedy rise into the tennis elite, which saw him qualify for this month's Nitto ATP Finals in London, and the German is often spoken of as a future world number one. But while Zverev has continued working with his father, he has also been drawing on Ferrero's experience of reaching the very top: winning a Grand Slam, holding the world number one ranking and gathering Davis Cup titles for Spain.
For Zverev, part of Ferrero's appeal was also that the 2003 French Open champion, known as 'El Mosquito', had a reputation during his playing days for being a hard worker, of dedicating himself to the pursuit of excellence. "From a personal point of view, he's one of the nicest guys I've met," Zverev has said. "He obviously can be very strong on court, telling me what to do and telling me what I'm doing wrong. But he's such an easy guy to be around that it was such an easy decision for me to take him into the team. He doesn't want to take my father's place, and my father doesn't want to take his place, so it's been the perfect fit."
Working with Zverev, Ferrero has been back in the white heat of men's tennis: "Zverev is a different player - he has the mentality of a champion."
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