2003 Monte Carlo final saw the clash between two super fine clay courters, defending champion and world number 3 Juan Carlos Ferrero and Guillermo Coria. Due to bad weather, the title match was reduced to the best-of-three format for the first time since 1993 and Juan Carlos became the first player who defended the title in the Principality after Thomas Muster in 1996 following a commanding 6-2 6-2 victory in just an hour and 16 minutes. This was the sixth ATP crown for the 23-year-old and his second win in as many matches against the Argentinian, ousting him in the third round of the Roland Garros a year earlier.
Fererro earned his third Masters 1000 title after two tough matches against Felix Mantilla and Gaston Gaudio in round two and three but he was the player to beat from the quarter-final round, dropping just 13 games in the last three matches to keep the trophy in his hands.
It wasn't the final that people would remember for a long time, thanks to a one-sided scoreboard and also too many errors on both sides compared to the number of winners they hit. Coria served at 75% but that wasn't visible on the court, as he lost 61% of the points behind his initial shot to struggle in almost every service game, getting broken six times from 11 chances he offered to the Spaniard.
Ferrero tamed his shots in a more efficient way and despite the fact he lost 42% of the points in his games he lost serve only twice and that was enough to claim the win and celebrate the title. Except for a few good games, Coria never found the desired rhythm, struggling to keep the pace with his rival or to impose his shots in the exchanges.
He stood on 40 errors in total, which was too much for such a short match, and he managed to fire just 10 winners, finding it difficult to create an open space and make the room for his forehand. Ferrero was far more potent with his right-wing shot and he made a fewer number of mistakes than his rival to control the scoreboard all the time.
Juan Carlos covered the court nicely and he was forcing Coria to go for riskier shots, something he wasn't capable to produce that day, especially not after 20 errors from his forehand. The Spaniard was in front in both the shorter and those more extended exchanges, playing well with his first groundstroke after the serve or return and mixing his game nicely to keep the rival behind.
Unable to overpower his opponent from the baseline, Coria endeavored to impose drop shots in order to move Ferrero from the comfort zone but that also didn't work well, failing to find the right way to lose the grip around himself.
As was expected, there were just nine service winners overall, five from Ferrero, and the Spaniard had a clear edge in the winners from the field department, blasting 16 winners against just six from Guillermo. Juan Carlos used every shorter ball to impose his forehand and get in front in the exchanges, although they both had a lot of unforced errors.
Coria finished the match on 24 and Ferrero added 20 (42,7% of all points ended up with an unforced error) and the Argentinian also made more forced errors, 14-11. Overall, Juan Carlos had 21 winners and 32 errors while Guillermo stood on 10 winners and 40 errors, unable to grab more games and prolong the match with a such a poor ratio.
Ferrero grabbed 24 out of 38 shortest points up to four strokes, delivering a better package of serve and the first groundstroke to create a nice advantage there. He also had a slim 17-15 lead in the mid-range points with five to eight shots and he was also the dominant figure in the longest points, winning 20 out of 33 points that hit the 9-shot mark, controlling his groundstrokes better and finding the more efficient solutions once the rally heats up.
Ferrero opened the match with a break after three errors from Coria and he secured it with a solid hold in game two. Guillermo couldn't find his rhythm early on and got broken again in game three, spraying eight errors so far and struggling to keep his backhand safe.
It was Juan Carlos' turn to play a loose service game and he lost his serve in game four after four errors, reducing his advantage to 3-1. Coria saved two break points in game five with much-needed winners and he held after two errors from Ferrero to stay in touch in the opening set.
The Spaniard played well and he had the upper hand in the rallies, welcoming three new errors from Coria in game six and the additional four in the game that followed to break him again for a 5-2 lead. He won four points in a row in that eight game, overpowering his opponent from the baseline and closing the set with his first service winner.
Guillermo had a slim 2-1 lead in service winners but the image was completely different when we examine the winners from the field where Ferrero ruled by 8-2. Juan Carlos made one unforced error more than his rival, 13-12, but he hit just four forced errors while Coria counted to nine, which also made the difference.
Juan Carlos broke at the start of the second set with a forehand winner after a 10-short rally, and he saved two break points in the next game to cement a 2-0 lead. He had two service winners just when he needed them and Coria added two more errors to miss his chance of pulling the break back and gain some confidence.
The Spaniard won three longer points on the return in game three and he sealed another break with a forehand return winner that sent him 6-2 3-0 in front. We finally saw some decent tennis from Coria in game four, he controlled the pace in the exchanges with his backhand and that gave him the edge that he failed to gain in the previous part of the match.
Nonetheless, he made three mistakes in the following game to spoil everything well he did a few minutes before and Ferrero was now 4-1 ahead with another break under his belt. Guillermo couldn't find his range in game six as well, sending four balls long to serve for staying in the match in the next game.
Coria held after a deuce to stay in the match and he had a break point in the game eight, only to be denied by a forehand winner from Ferrero. A service winner delivered the win for Juan Carlos after just 76 minutes, earning the title in the much easier way than he was hoping for.
It was 4-2 for Ferrero in service winners and 8-4 in the winners from the field, creating the gap just like in the opening set. Coria made more unforced errors, 12 to 7, while Ferrero had seven forced errors compared to five from the Argentinian, but that couldn't change the outcome of the set.
Point by point result and the number of shots in the rallies: