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).”

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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

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Nadal survives three-set marathon with Shapovalov in Rome

Rafael Nadal saved match points to edge out Denis Shapovalov in Rome.

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Rafael Nadal (@atptour - Twitter)

The King of Clay needed three sets and over three hours to claim the win and avoid an upset.

 

Rafael Nadal needed three hours and 27 minutes to beat the Canadian Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 at the Italian Open in Rome hitting 29 winners while his counterpart hit 46 unforced errors in the loss.

To everyone’s surprise it was the world number 14 who came out with the faster start earning two breakpoints in the first service game of the match with a stunning forehand winner.

He would break to take an early 1-0 lead and continued to have momentum earning another break and the Spaniard found himself staring at 3-0 defecit.

At 4-1 the world number three would get one of the breaks back but it wasn’t enough as the Toronto native would break one more time at 5-3 on his fourth breakpoint of the game to take the first set.

Once again we saw some really strong play from the Canadian in the beginning of the second set we saw history repeat itself when the world number 14 held serve and get the early break this time with his powerful forehand.

Nadal was fighting to stay in the set and the match and managed to earn a breakpoint but it was quickly saved with a big ace from Shapovalov. The very next game the Canadian had a chance to get another break but this time the Spaniard would deny him the opportunity.

After the world number three held serve he went on the attack looking to go back on serve and after three chances would get the break back. He would end up winning five games in a row and would take the second set to send it to a decider.

The third set remained on serve until 2-1 when the Canadian had a chance to break and he would take to jump out to a 3-1 lead. The break didn’t hold as Nadal came storming back the very next game breaking the world number 14 to love and equaling the set at 3-3.

The set and the match would ultimately be decided by a tiebreaker and in that breaker is when the Spaniard would take over winning it 7-3 to book his spot in the quarterfinals.

He will next face either Alexander Zverev or Kei Nishikori on Friday for a spot in the semifinals.

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Novak Djokovic Moving Into A ‘Good Trajectory’ After Reaching Rome Quarter-Finals

Novak Djokovic admitted that he is on a good trajectory after reaching the last eight in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic (@atptour - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic has said that he is on a ‘good trajectory’ after moving into the Rome Quarter-Finals.

 

The world number one moved into the last eight in the Italian capital with a comfortable 6-2 6-1 victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Despite being broken in the first game, Djokovic rallied back to break on five occasions as he cruised past the Erratic Spaniard.

After 1 hour and 11 minutes, Djokovic’s overall game was too much for Davidovich Fokina as the Serb progressed to his 15th quarter-final in Rome.

After the match in his on-court interview the top seed admitted he is on a good trajectory as he builds momentum towards Roland Garros, “I thought I played well,” Djokovic told the ATP website.

“He started well and broke my serve in the first game. I made some errors, but I managed to break back right away and establish the control and consistency on the court. I think from the back of the court I was just a bit more solid than him.

“He made some unforced errors and double faults in key moments, which obviously helped me get that necessary break forward. I thought I played better, at least 20 or 30 per cent better, than I did against Fritz a few days ago. I am on a good trajectory and hopefully tomorrow will be even better.”

The real test for Djokovic will come tomorrow when he faces top 10 opposition in the last eight.

It will either be Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas or Madrid finalist and home favourite Matteo Berrettini next up for the world number one.

Djokovic was well aware of the form either of his possible opponents are in heading into tomorrow’s showdown, “My next match will be against a Top 10 player, so it is going to be a battle,” Djokovic explained.

“Both of these guys are in great form. Tsitsipas won Monte-Carlo and Berrettini is just coming off the final in Madrid. I am obviously going to do my best to win that match, whoever I play against.”

In the other result in Rome today, Reilly Opelka reached the quarter-finals with a 7-6(6) 6-4 win over Aslan Karatsev.

The American hit 18 aces as he will now face Felix Auger-Aliassime or Federico Delbonis on Friday.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas sets up blockbuster third round match against Matteo Berrettini in Rome

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Stefanos Tsitsipas edged past Marin Cilic 7-5 6-2 to advance to third round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

 

Tsitsipas has improved his win-loss record to 28-7 this season, equalling Andrey Rublev for most match wins after Rublev beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-7 (7-9) 6-1 6-4 earlier today. 

Tsitsipas had to save two break points in the ninth game to hold serve after four deuces. The 2021 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters winner earned his crucial break in the 12th game to win a hard-fought first set 7-5. 

Tsitsipas was in control of the match and cruised to a 6-2 win in the second set with two breaks in the second and eighth games. 

“Sometimes I need to adjust my game and Marin is someone I respect a lot. I knew he was going to come out here and play his best tennis. He made move a lot. It was quite tricky to adjust to that at the beginning, but towards the very end of the first set I stayed calm and stayed calm and resilient. I had to play deep on the returns and find solutions from the baseline rallies. That worked well for me from 6-5”, said Tsitsipas. 

Tsitsipas set up a blockbuster third round match against last week’s Madrid Mutua Open finalist Matteo Berrettini, who beat John Millman 6-4 6-2 in front of fans, who will return on Thursday. Tsitsipas enjoyed the atmosphere on the Pietrangeli Stadium. 

“The Pietrangeli Stadium is very beautiful. It’s one of the best courts on tour. I feel like the Pietrangeli here is great. We are surrounded by trees in the city and it’s very quiet which is very important for tennis. Honestly, I can’t wait for the fans to come and fill in the stadium”, said Tsitsipas. 

Berrettini missed three consecutive break points in the third game of the opening set and earned his first break in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead. The Rome-native star served out the first set at 15. Berrettini earned two consecutive breaks to race out to 4-0 lead. Millman saved a break point to hold serve in the fifth game, but Berrettini never looked back in his next two service games to claim the second set 6-2. 

Berrettini has improved with his each appearance in the Rome tournament, reaching the second round in 2018, the third round in 2019 and the quarter final in 2020. 

Tsitsipas beat Berrettini in their only head-to-head match at the 2019 Australian Open. 

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