US Open 2011: How Long Will Juan Carlos Ferrero's Storybook Run Last?

Joseph HealyCorrespondent ISeptember 4, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 01:  Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain celebrates match point against Gael Monfils of France during Day Four of the 2011 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 1, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

One of the fun storylines to follow in any Grand Slam tennis event is the runs through the tournament made by the most improbable of players. Generally, young up and comers make those runs ready to break out or by highly talented players that have struggled to find consistency in their careers.

The rarest of improbable runs is the one we are witnessing right now. Juan Carlos Ferrero, an aging former champion who has had his share of injuries, is currently navigating the field. Ferrero is heading to round 16 with his most recent victory.

Tennis fans that haven't been following the sport as much lately will recognize the name. In 2003, he came very close to joining an elite group of tennis players that have won two Grand Slam events in one year. He won the French Open that year and lost in the finals of the US Open to a promising American youngster named Andy Roddick.

It was soon after that point that things fell apart for Ferrero. Thanks to injuries and inconsistency, Ferrero didn't win a single ATP tournament again until 2009.

At 31 years old, Ferrero shouldn't be doing what he is doing. At that age, only the true elites continue to play well. He's not much of a hard court player at this stage. He has won five tournaments since the start of the 2009 season, but they have all been on clay.

Ferrero's run on one of the biggest stages in tennis makes you think anything is possible, but it's hard to imagine his run continuing much longer.

He has played more tennis in the last five days than he has played in the last few months. At his age, that has to be wearing on him. None of his opponents will be surprised by his level of play either. It's clear to everyone now that he can still compete. He also lucked out when his third round opponent Marcel Granollers had to retire.

On the other hand, there's little reason to think his run will end. His next opponent, 20-ranked Janko Tipsarevic, is having a good year, but he's far from unbeatable. He certainly won't be as tough a task as Gael Monfils was in the second round.

One thing is for certain: Impartial tennis fans will be behind Ferrero the whole way. This is simply too good a story to pass up rooting for.