Barcelona Open to honor former Grand Slam champ Juan Carlos Ferrero

Barcelona, Mar 6 (EFE).- Spanish tennis great Juan Carlos Ferrero, who won 15 singles titles during his career and briefly held the No. 1 ranking in the fall of 2003, will be honored at the April 22-28 Barcelona Open, organizers said Wednesday.

Ferrero, who won the Godo Trophy in Barcelona in 2001, retired in late 2012.

"It has always been a special tournament for me. When I was a boy, like everyone, it was the one I dreamed about the most. I went many times to see it and later had the good fortune to play in it and, on top of that, to win it," the 33-year-old Ferrero said in a statement released by organizers.

The retired tennis star, who won the 2003 French Open, owns the Equelite Sport Academy in Villena, Alicante, and runs the tournament in Valencia.

Ferrero was one of the world's best players from 2000 to 2003 but injuries began to hinder his performance starting in 2004.

The Spaniard enjoyed most of his success on clay, reaching the French Open semifinals four years in a row and finally winning the title 10 years ago.

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 Australia's Lleyton Hewitt.

Ferrero, however, also had considerable success on hard courts, reaching the 2003 U.S. Open final and losing to Hewitt in the final of the 2002 Tennis Masters Cup.

The Barcelona Open BancSabadell is one of the bigger tune-up events for tennis' premier clay-court tournament, the French Open, which gets underway on May 21.