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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Stefanos Tsitsipas ‘Happy’ To Follow In Grandfather’s Footsteps At Olympics

The Greek speaks out about carrying his family’s legacy at the Games.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas never met his grandfather but the two of them do have something in common – they are both Olympians.

 

The world No.4 has already created history in Tokyo by winning his first round match against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber on Sunday to become the first male player from his country to win a singles match since 1924. Greece has won two medals at the Games but both of them were during its inaugural edition back in 1896.

Tsitsipas’ debut in Tokyo enables him to continue his family legacy of playing in the sporting extravaganza. His grandfather was Sergei Salnikov who played football for the Soviet Union during the 1950s. In 1956 Salnikov was part of the team who won Olympic gold in Melbourne. After retiring from the sport, he went on to manage the FC Spartak Moscow and the Afghanistan national team before passing away in 1984 aged 58.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him. But my mom told me stories of his career and how he got it…. He kind of inspires me in a way,” said Tsitsipas. “I know what kind of athlete he was, with all the achievements and all the trophies. I’m proud of him.
“It’s something good, a legacy that is being carried on in the family. I’m happy to be the next in the family to be competing at the Olympics.”

It isn’t just a medal in the singles Tsitsipas has his eyes on, he will also be bidding for success in the mixed doubles alongside Maria Sakkari. The two previously paired up at the 2019 Hopman Cup where they finished second in their group.

“We have already played once (together), and we had great success,” Sakkari told reporters on Monday. “We know each other really well, and we are much better players two-and-a-half years later, and we are both really pumped to play together. Of course, I cannot predict that we will get a medal. We will try our best and I think we give ourselves the best chance we can.”

Tsitsipas will return to action tomorrow in the men’s singles where he will play Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

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Carlos Alcaraz reaches his first ATP Tour final in Umag

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Spanish Next Gen star Carlos Alcaraz secured a spot in his first ATP tour-level final with a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open in Umag. 

 

Alcaraz has become the youngest ATP Tour finalist since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori won the Delray Beach title in 2008. 

Alcaraz broke twice to open up a 4-0 lead and held his next service games to close out the first set 6-2. 

Ramos Vinolas came back from a break down three times in the second set, when Alcaraz served for the match. Alcaraz battled through the second-set tie-break to clinch the win after two hours. 

Alcaraz set up a final against Richard Gasquet, who battled past German qualifier Daniel Altmeier 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-3 after three hours and 11 minutes. 

Gasquet has become the second oldest finalist in tournament history. The 35-year-old saved seven of hi sten break points, but he converted just just 3 of his 17 break points.  

Gasquet rallied from a break down twice to draw level to 4-4 before winning the tie-break 7-2. Altmeier converted his third break point in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. Altmeier saved three break points in the second game, before Gasquet converted his second break point in the sixth game to win the second set 6-3. 

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Novak Djokovic Cruises Past Dellien In Olympics Opener

Novak Djokovic’s bid for a historic golden slam continued in Tokyo.

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Novak Djokovic (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic cruised past Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2 to open his bid for a gold medal at the Olympics.

 

The world number one’s bid to achieve the golden slam is on after thrashing the Bolivian in humid conditions.

A perfect start for the Serbian who is looking to achieve the one thing he is yet to achieve and that’s win a gold medal.

Next for Djokovic will be Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

In 32C temperatures, Djokovic was looking to start his campaign off against Bolivian veteran Hugo Dellien.

The slow paced courts would suit Dellien as he engaged in some long rallies with the world number one early on.

Despite creating three break points in the fourth game, Djokovic would fail to break early on.

However Djokovic increased his level mixing up the pace and depth of his shots to create angles for simple winners.

On his fifth break point Djokovic would break for a 4-2 lead and the top seed would break for a second time as Dellien had no answers for the Serb’s defensive skills. First set to Djokovic in 33 minutes.

A similar pattern evolved in the second set only this time Djokovic did get a break in the fourth game, breaking to love.

Accurate serving and construction of points gave Djokovic an easy first round match as another break secured the match and sealed his spot into the second round.

A fine performance in tough conditions gave Djokovic’s bid for history the best possible start.

Next for Djokovic will be Jan-Lennard Struff who beat Thiago Monteiro 6-3 6-4.

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