David Ferrer Never Won A Grand Slam, But He Still Captured The Hearts Of A Nation - UBITENNIS
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David Ferrer Never Won A Grand Slam, But He Still Captured The Hearts Of A Nation

Ubitennis Reflects on Ferrer’s career with the help of two prestigious Spanish journalists.

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David Ferrer (photo by Roberto Dell Olivo)

MADRID: It wasn’t long into David Ferrer’s career that the world knew he had something special. His journey began as a professional in 2002 when he reached the final of the Croatia Open in just his second ATP tournament at the age of 20. Since then, he has evolved from a rising star to one of the most respected players in the sport.

 

Now 37, the Spaniard may not have been the most decorated of all-time and never won a grand slam title. Yet his accolades are just as impressive. Spending 4914 days continuously ranked inside the world’s top 50 between 2005-2018. Seven of those years saw him end the season in the world’s top 10. Overall, Ferrer claimed 27 ATP titles to make him more decorated on the tour than former world No.1 players Jim Courier (23) and Gustavo Kuerten (20). It wasn’t until his 42nd grand slam where he reached his maiden final at the 2013 French Open in what remains an Open Era record.

“I would have never thought that I would have been able to finish my career in such a successful way and nevertheless, I have experienced a lot of things. It is the best thing that has happened in my life.” Ferrer reflected.
“I have lived a lot of things, thanks to tennis, both professionally and personally.”

Ferrer chose the Caja Magica, venue of the Madrid Open, as the place where he would say goodbye to life on the tour. It was equally ironic and fitting that his opening match would be against another Spaniard in the shape of Roberto Bautista Agut. Who is currently placed 21st in the ATP rankings. Despite only a six-year gap between the two, Agut once labeled Ferrer as one of his idols growing up.

“It’s going to be special for me because I am going to play the doubles with Ferrer. He is one of my idols. I will enjoy a lot that week and I hope to learn a lot.” Agut told Ubitennis about teaming up with his Davis Cup teammate at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Agut’s words are ones echoed by many of his colleagues in the sport. Ferrer only experienced a fraction of the success Rafael Nadal has accomplished, but yet it is due to his commitment to tennis that he has high respect.

“I share tremendous respect for David as a player and as a person as well.” Novak Djokovic said in a tribute on Monday. “He’s someone that has earned that respect many times in his career. His fighting spirit, his devotion to the sport is unprecedented and in a way, it’s sad to see him leave.”

The goodbye

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In the opening match at his farewell tournament in the Spanish capital, Ferrer illustrated why he has the nickname ‘little beast.‘ Fighting for more than two-and-a-half-hours to oust Agut 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. A true testament to the determination of the Spanish veteran.

“I’m trying to enjoy the moment I have right now. I won a match against a good friend and a very tough opponent. I want to be with my family and try to enjoy as much as possible the time that I have to play in this center court.” He said following his win over Agut.

It would be Alexander Zverev who would end his career. The last top-five player he beat earlier this year. Despite a valiant start, he crashed out in straight sets. Bringing an end to his time as a professional player. Seconds after the emotions started flowing as well as the tributes.

“It’s was a very emotional night. Completely different from any other important moment in my life that I have experienced previously. I was not expecting it.” Ferrer commented.
“The reality has been more than fiction, I never expected a goodbye or farewell like today (Wednesday).”

https://twitter.com/TennisTV/status/1126233271988305927

The Ferrer effect

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Whilst he never topped the rankings, Ferrer still managed to leave his mark on Spanish tennis. Drawing admiration for his hard work and dedication to the sport. For Spaniards, it is his work ethic that has won him so many fans according to José Morón, the chief editor of Punto de Break. One of the biggest tennis websites in the country.

“To me, he is an example for kids to follow at school because he was in the shadow of different Spanish players such as Nadal, Feliciano, Verdasco. But he made his own way to the top by fighting.” Morón told Ubitennis.
“I think Ferrer is more connected to people because he is more down to earth. David worked a lot to be at the top. I think that’s why the public loves him because he’s a really nice guy and worked a lot to get where he is.” He added.

Growing up watching Ferrer develop on the tour, it is one of his earliest achievements that stays in the mind of Morón. As well as Ferrer’s comeback in the final of the 2010 Davis Cup where he defeated Radek Stepanek 1-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 8-6.

“When I was a kid, his first ATP final in Shanghai. In the semi-finals, he was playing against Roddick. Which was very difficult on the Shanghai hard courts. I remember Andy saying ‘no matter how hard I serve, the ball was always coming back.’ David was like a wall.” He recounted.

Another journalist to recognize Ferrer’s achievements is Manuel Poyán, who works for Eurosport. A veteran Spanish commentator whose voice is recognized by many around the world. Speaking with Ubitennis, Poyán paid a special tribute to Ferrer’s ‘technical evolution.’

In light of the loss also comes relief. Unlike his final grand slam match against Nadal at the US Open last September, Ferrer was able to end his career on his own terms. Avoiding injury which has marred his results in recent years. Something that is a dream for many players.

Ferrer may not have been the greatest Spanish player of all time, but his retirement will leave an empty space in his country’s tennis community. Something he perfectly summarised when addressing the crowd during his farewell speech.

“The trophies are material, what I really wanted is the love from the people. That is what really meant the most.”

Ferrer’s career milestones

2002 – Wins first ATP title in Bucharest
2003 – Scores first-ever win over a world No.1 player by defeating Andre Agassi
2005 – First Grand slam quarter-final (French Open)
2006 – Made his top 10 debut
2007 – First ever grand slam semi-final (US Open)
2008-2009 – Plays role in Spain winning two Davis Cup titles
2010 – First Masters 1000 final (Rome)
2012 – First and only Masters 1000 title (Paris)
2013 – First and only appearance in a major final (French Open) and rises to a ranking best of 3rd
2015 – Claimed five ATP titles
2017 – Won his 27th and final ATP title at the Swedish Open

ATP

The Year-End Rankings: The Rise Of Alcaraz And The Eternals, Djokovic and Nadal

Image via ATP Twitter

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By Roberto Ferri

Let’s start our last article on the ATP rankings by quoting the words which are said to be the last of emperor Augustus: “The play is over, applaud”.

 

We cannot but applaud Novak Djokovic, six-time ATP Finals winner just like Roger Federer. And we applaud the season, which, for good or ill, has been unique. Just consider the most striking events: Carlos Alcaraz rising to No. 1, Roger Federer’s retirement, all the issues involving Djokovic and the Wimbledon affair.  

The top positions of the ranking have been significantly impacted by Djokovic’s absence from two Majors (Australian Open and US Open), four Masters 1000 (Indian Wells, Miami Open, Canadian Open, Cincinnati) and by ATP’s decision to not award points for Wimbledon.

If we compare the ATP rankings published after the ATP Finals in 2021 and 2022, this fact is clearly noticeable. 

22 NOVEMBER 2021

PositionPlayerCountryPts 
1DjokovicSerbia11540
2MedvedevRussia8640
3ZverevGermany7840
4TsitsipasGreece6540
5RublevRussia5150
6NadalSpain4875
7BerrettiniItaly4568
8RuudNorway4160
9HurkaczPoland3706
10SinnerItaly3350
11Auger-AliassimeCanada3308
12NorrieGB2945
13SchwartzmanArgentina2625
14ShapovalovCanada2475
15ThiemAustria2425
16FedererSwitzerland2385
17GarinChile2353
18KaratsevRussia2351
19Bautista AgutSpain2260
20Carreno BustaSpain2230

14 NOVEMBER 2022:

PositionPlayerCountryPts
1AlcarazSpain6820
2NadalSpain6020
3RuudNorway5820
4TsitsipasGreece5550
5DjokovicSerbia4820
6Auger-AliassimeCanada4195
7MedvedevRussia4065
8RublevRussia3930
9FritzUSA3355
10HurkaczPoland2905
11RuneDenmark2888
12ZverevGermany2700
13Carreno BustaSpain2495
14NorrieGB2445
15SinnerItaly2410
16BerrettiniItaly2375
17ShapovalovCanada2105
18CilicCroatia2075
19TiafoeUSA2000
20KhachanovRussia1990

Novak Djokovic ended 2021 with 4720 points more than Carlos Alcaraz; also Medvedev and Tsitsipas earned more points than the Spaniard, who would not have reached 7000 points even counting the 135 points he wasn’t awarded at Wimbledon.

A few comments on the 2022 rankings:

  • Casper Ruud, the ATP Finals finalist, concludes his excellent year in third place, overtaking Stefanos Tsitsipas with an impressive final rush.
  • Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are the only top 10 players born in the 80s; the other 8 were born in the second half of the 90s.
  • Cameron Norrie and Pablo Carreno Busta are the survivors of the lost generation, born between 1990 and 1995 and that was most overpowered by the Big Four dominance. 
  • Only North America, beyond Europe, is represented at the very highest: Auger Aliassime, Fritz, Shapovalov and Tiafoe.
  • Holger Rune has gained 92 positions since the start of the year. Carlos Alcaraz “just” 31.
  • A final note: Kei Nishikori ends 2022 without a ranking. Does this suggest he’s going to retire?

BEST RANKING

Owing to earned and dropped points, as well as results in the Challenger events, five players in the top 100 have achieved their career highest this week:

Emil Ruusuvuori – 40

Quentin Halys – 64

Christopher O’Connell – 79

Roman Safiullin – 89

Nuno Borges – 91

A special applause for the 20-year old Ben Shelton, a bright prospect for USA tennis, who has made his debut in the top 100. Thanks to his victory in the Champaign-Urbana Challenger he’s now ranked 97.

Is that all? Not yet! Just a quiz for everybody: which was the last year which saw the first two places in the rankings occupied at the end of the season by two players of the same nationality?

That’s really all for now. We’ll be back in 2023.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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ATP Finals Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Faces Casper Ruud in the Championship Match

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Novak Djokovic on Saturday in Turin (twitter.com/atptour)

The biggest ATP non-Major final of 2022 takes place on Sunday in Turin, Italy.

 

2022 has been a bizarre year in the career of Novak Djokovic.  It started with his deportation from Australia, forcing the unvaccinated Djokovic to miss the first Major of the year.  That would be one of six prominent events that Novak would miss this season due to COVID-19 entry rules (Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami, Montreal, Cincinnati, US Open).  Yet Djokovic was still able to accumulate a record of 41-7, and win his 21st Slam at Wimbledon.  He is now 17-1 at indoor ATP events this fall, and will end the year as the World No.5  With a win on Sunday, he would tie Roger Federer for most all-time ATP Finals titles.

2022 has been a groundbreaking year in the career of Casper Ruud.  He had already established himself as a top 10 player, but prior to this season, was predominantly thought of as a clay court specialist, with five of his six ATP titles coming on that surface.  Yet that all changed this season, starting in Miami when he reached his first Masters 1000 finals.  Casper would go on to also reach his first two Major finals, in Paris in New York.  He is now 51-21, and into his fourth big final of the year.


Sunday’s action in Turin starts at 4:00pm local time with the doubles championship match, featuring Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (4) vs. Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury (2).  Both teams are an undefeated 4-0 this past week.  This is Ram and Salisbury’s second consecutive year in the final, having lost a year ago to Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.  Mektic won this title two years ago alongside Wesley Koolhof, while this is Pavic’s first appearance in the final of this event.  These teams have not met since the semifinals of this tournament last year, when Ram and Salisbury prevailed.


Casper Ruud (3) Novak Djokovic (7) – Not Before 7:00pm

Ruud is 3-1 this past week, with his only loss coming in a dead rubber against Rafael Nadal.  Prior to his three top 10 victories across the last seven days, Casper only had two all season (Zverev, Auger-Aliassime).  And he is yet to win a title above 250-level in his career, with the aforementioned three losses this year in big finals.  Ruud was a semifinalist here a year ago in his ATP Finals debut.

Djokovic is an undefeated 4-0 this week, which includes an arduous effort to defeat Daniil Medvedev on Friday in a dead rubber.  Novak is now 10-3 against top 10 opposition in 2022, having taken nine of his last 10 against the top 10.  He is 4-2 in finals this year, though he lost his most recent one, two weeks in Bercy, to Holger Rune.  Djokovic is an eight-time finalist here, though he hasn’t won this title since 2015.

Djokovic has played a lot more tennis across the last two days than Ruud.  On Friday, Novak spent over three hours on court, while Ruud had the day off.  But Djokovic still looked plenty fresh for his semifinal on Saturday against Taylor Fritz, and was able to prevent the American from extending that tight contest to a third set.  Novak is 3-0 against Casper, which includes a straight-set victory at this same event a year ago.  And considering Ruud’s poor record in significant finals, Djokovic is a considerable favorite to win his sixth title at the ATP Finals on Sunday.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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ATP Finals: Fritz Close But No… Final, Djokovic Advances

Novak Djokovic beats Taylor Fritz in two tie-breaks and is just one win away from his sixth title at Nitto ATP Finals

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Novak Djokovic - 2022 Nitto ATP Finals Turin (photo Twitter @atptour)

[7] N. Djokovic b. [8] T. Fritz 7-6(5) 7-6(5)

 

Even when physically not at his best, Novak Djokovic can still count on his incredible ability to play the most effective tennis in the most important moment. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if the opponent misses an easy shot while attempting to close out the set, but the pressure Djokovic puts on whomever is on the other side of the net makes even the easiest shot look a little bit harder.

The former world no. 1 has put together a clinical display of efficiency during the first semifinal of the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin edging Taylor Fritz by two points in the tie-breaker of each set to reach his eighth finals in the end-of-year Championship.

It was not the best Djokovic, and it was not the best match: lots of errors on both sides, and a huge opportunity for Fritz to take the match to the distance when he served at 5-4 in the second set and then missed an easy backhand sitter to go a set-point up at 40-30, blaming an idiot spectator who indeed shouted in the middle of the point, when he really should have been able to put away that point blindfolded.

Fritz did not start the match in the best possible way: 10 unforced errors during the first five games, a break conceded at love at 2-2 and Djokovic appeared destined for a relatively quiet afternoon. But it was not going to be that easy: errors started flowing also on the Serbian side, and Fritz was able to equalize at 3-3. A tie-break was then needed to decide the winner of the first set, and the deciding point was a laser forehand down the line by Djokovic who swept point and set at 6-5 and headed off to the toilet for a comfort break after taking a one-set advantage.

But the break did not do him much good: unforced errors kept coming from the baseline, and Fritz blitzed 2-0 up with a break. At 4-3, the American wowed the Italian crowd with a magical backhand stop-volley to recover a service game where he found himself down 0-30, but when it was time to serve out the set, he missed that easy backhand we described earlier to give Djokovic another chance to close out a match in two sets.

And another chance is the last thing Djokovic should be gifted, although on a day like today, with Christmas time upon us, gift trading became the thing of the match. Two great points at 4-4 in the tie-break warmed the 12,000-strong crowd at Pala Alpitour to what could have possibly been a great end of the set, but Djokovic first earned a match point to be played on his serve with a good action from the baseline closed by a volley and then squandered it all with a very unusual unforced error on a routine backhand. But on his second match point, just a minute later, Fritz badly missed an inside-out forehand putting an end to the match and gifting Djokovic a chance to win his sixth title at the Nitto ATP Finals, the first in Turin.

On Sunday he will face either Casper Ruud or Andrey Rublev: he has never lost to Ruud in three previous matches (3-0) and the only time he did not beat Rublev (2-1) was last spring in Belgrade in the final of the tournament organized by his family.

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