The favourite left with the trophy on Saturday. Juan Carlos Ferrero lifted the third Senior Masters Cup after beating Marat Safin in two sets (6-3 and 6-4). They played the final in front of 1,500 spectators, filling the Manolo Santana court at the Puente Romano tennis club in Marbella.
The Valencian joins Carlos Moyá and Albert Costa on the list of champions of this tournament which has gone from being a showcase for former glories to benchmark competition for former players and recent legends.
Saturday's final saw two former world number ones face each other across the net. Ferrero and Safin had previously competed against each other in Malaga in a Davis Cup match. Safin, was a mere 20 years old in 2000 when he dominated the world rankings and Ferrero held the same privilege in 2003.
In the first set the games were fast, with few errors. Then from the sixth to the eighth game, consecutively, the players each broke the service of their rival. Safin played backhand with greater success, but Ferrero reached all the balls. The "oh" of the audience was repeated with several passing shots from the Spaniard which were so strong that the Russian could only cheer sportingly. Ferrero did not waste his first match point and sealed the victory.
"Ferrero still behaves like a professional. I saw him running on the spot and lifting some weights before the warm-up. He continues to be a highly dedicated and skilled player" Safin said, acknowledging that he had not picked up a racquet for seven years, having formally retired in 2009.
The winner stated: "It felt natural to be back on the court. I loved being a part of this competition."
The Ivanisevic show
Before the competitive final the crowds were treated to a doubles show. In a one-set match, the pairing of Moyá and Costa beat Ivanisevic and Clavet 7 games to 6, but the outcome was of little importance.
In less than an hour on the court Goran Ivanisevic the showman had filled the stands of Puente Romano with tears of laughter. His repertoire could not have been more varied: he played with his foot, left his partner alone as he sat in a chair, jumped the net to play three against one and let a ball boy play in his place.
The tournament did not end when Ferrero won the champions cup. At midnight another tennis legend, Yannick Noah, who is also a professional singer, swapped his racquet for a microphone in a concert enjoyed by VIP guests and the players.