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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Novak Djokovic Survives Krajinovic Battle To Seal Last Eight Berth In Rome

Novak Djokovic reached an 85th Masters 1000 Quarter-Final in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic (@ATPTour - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic survived a tough battle in Rome to beat Filip Krajinovic 7-6(7) 6-3 to reach the last eight.

 

Although the World Number one got the victory, it was a tough battle as he fought his compatriot for a place in the Quarter-Finals.

Breaks were shared to start the match as Krajinovic brought his fearless game to the top seed.

Djokovic created a total of ten break points, with only one executed as Krajinovic saved two set points in the tenth game to hold for 5-5.

After two comfortable holds, a tiebreak settled the winner of the first set as Djokovic was having a hard time to contain Krajinovic’s power.

The world number one battled from 3-0 down to edge the tiebreak 9-7 and win the opening set in 88 minutes.

Once Djokovic had survived the Krajinovic stormed, he took control and went into another gear as a break of serve in the third game was all that was needed to seal his place in the quarter-finals.

Winning 47% of his 2nd return points was key as Djokovic reaches his 85th Masters 1000 Quarter-Final of his career.

Next for Djokovic will be either talented teen sensation Lorenzo Musetti or Dominik Koepfer.

In other results today, Denis Shapovalov and Grigor Dimitrov set a last eight showdown after tight three set wins.

Shapovalov edged out Ugo Humbert 6-7(5) 6-1 6-4 while Dimitrov defeated Jannik Sinner 4-6 6-4 6-4 in a tough match.

There were also third round wins for Casper Ruud and Matteo Berrettini.

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Rafael Nadal Missing Fan Support Despite Emphatic Win At Italian Open

The 19-time Grand Slam winner reacts to his latest win 200 days after his last.

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Rafael Nadal (image via https://twitter.com/InteBNLdItalia)

The absence of a crowd at this year’s Italian Masters has been branded as ‘not beautiful’ by Rafael Nadal following his opening match on Wednesday.

 

The world No.2 raced to a 6-1, 6-1, triumph over US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta in what was his first competitive match of any sort since March 1st. Despite his lengthy break from the Tour, Nadal showed little rust as he dropped only eight points behind his serve and broke the world No.18 five times overall. The latest victory is Nadal’s 62nd in Rome and he has only won more matches at four other tournaments.

“Of course I have to improve things. The things that I have to improve, the only way to improve is to keep practising with the right attitude, the right intensity and to spend hours in competition matches,” he said afterwards.
“Today has been a positive start for me,”
Nadal later added.

Choosing to skip the New York bubble due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nadal is still getting used to the concept of playing without the crowds. Something many of his rivals has already had experience of. The Italian Open had originally hoped to allow fans to enter its grounds before the local authorities ruled against it over concerns it could trigger an outbreak of the Coronavirus.

“It’s Not beautiful the feeling of playing without the spectators because the energy of the fans is impossible to describe. But for me, at least, today has been a very positive comeback,” Nadal assessed.

It is a case of wait and see as to how the Spaniard will fare in the coming days given his recent lack of match play compared to his rivals such as Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic. Fortunately for Nadal, he is playing on the clay which is a surface which he has won more ATP titles on than any other player in the Open Era. As for the upcoming French Open, will a lack of play in recent weeks be problematic for him?

“I don’t think so, no. If Roland Garros was this week, maybe yes. Roland Garros is two weeks away.” He concluded.

Nadal will next play either Milos Raonic or Dusan Lajovic who will play their second round match on Thursday.

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Dominic Thiem And Thomas Muster: A Comparison

They are the only Austrian Slam champions in men’s tennis, but how do they stack up against each other?

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Dominic Thiem - US Open 2020 (via Twitter, @usopen)

The original version of this article was published on loslalom.it.

 

On October 24, 2011, Dominic Thiem had just turned 18 and was in the very early stages of his professional career, so the organisers of the ATP tournament in Vienna rewarded him with a wild card. On October 24, 2011, Thomas Muster had been 44 for about three weeks and at the sunset of his career, so he was also given the wild card for Vienna tournament. What no one could predict, neither the players nor the tournament organizers, was that the draw would pit them against each other in the first round, for what would be their first encounter, and ultimately the only one – after conceding with a 6-2 6-3 score in an hour and four minutes, Muster retired forever. He was the only Austrian to have won a Grand Slam tournament, in 1995 at Roland Garros, at least until Sunday night, when the then teenager who ended his career equalled him.

In the first decade of his career, Thiem has earned almost twice as much as Munster did in 18 (22 million dollars against 12). Thiem is right-handed, Muster a southpaw. Both sport one-handed backhands. It took 10 years for Muster to win a Major, and by the eleventh he was the world N.1, albeit not for long. He was a bona fide drop-shot chaser. It took nine years as a professional for Thiem to win at Flushing Meadows, but he has not yet risen higher than third in the ATP Ranking. Thiem is two inches taller (6’1’’ versus 5’11’’), he has an edge for the number of aces (5.8 per game on average against 3) and for the effectiveness of his first serve (74.2% vs 69.1%). The two are essentially tied with their second serve (53.2% vs 53.7) and in the break-points-saved department (62.9% vs 63%), but Muster is more dominant in the return games (31.6% break vs 23.5%) and, despite earning a street rep as a marathon runner, his matches were 11 minutes shorter than Thiem’s (an hour and 30 minutes against an hour and 41). His winning points ended on average in 35 seconds, Thiem’s in 37,8 seconds.

In his career Thiem has met stronger opponents, ranked on average at 35 in the world, while Muster’s foes usually hovered around number 52. Despite this, the latter managed to beat opponents better placed than him in the standings in only 9.8% of cases, while Thiem’s ​​percentage is 12.3 %. On the contrary, Thiem was beaten in 21.4% of cases by tennis players ranked worse in the rankings, whereas this happened to Muster in 19% of cases, a percentage that drops to 13% when it comes to clay only. For a couple of weeks at the beginning of 2020, Muster coached Thiem.

The following chart summarises the numbers: 

Gianni Clerici, the Italian Hall-of-Famer journalist and writer, gave Thomas Muster the moniker of “Mr Muscolo” (Mr Muscle). This is the portrait he made of him: “He’s not very nice, seven out of ten people say about Muster. A couple of them find him downright unpleasant. The remaining, meagre ten percent all but worships him. It is probably the attitude that does not appeal. His face appears incredibly rapacious, reminding of a bird of prey, or, if not strictly of an eagle or a hawk, at the very least of a possessed personality, those wide-open eyes animated by a blue and sinister light. But, even more than the face, what repels many people is his technique, his relentlessness devoid of human breathing which is fully on display as he gets back bopping on his side of the court a ripe thirty seconds before the  established one minute and 25, while the unfortunate opponent is still splayed on his chair, trying to recover some breath and peace in the aftermath of the gruelling races that Muster locked him into. If the style is the man, well, the Austrian’s style does not capture the imagination. His serve is average at best, and he cautiously avoids volleying, but he has some great weapons, like that terrible loopy forehand and, in the last couple years, that no less terrible backhand slap. Come to think of it, even Muster’s ancestors, Borg and Vilas, were no less engulfing, less repetitive. But Borg had more athletic talent, his runs were very fluid, his sense of playing so high that he even managed to adapt to the Wimbledon lawns where he won five times and where Muster instead looks like a wretch. Muster has the athletic pedigree of champions but certainly not the charisma”.

Clerici also had the opportunity to write on Thiem for “la Repubblica” (an Italian daily newspaper), stating that “he was born with tennis in his blood, […] he has a refined hand, as can be seen with his drop shots and with his cross-court volleys,” then adding: “I have seen many times the Austrian go all-out on his backhand, as if he were holding an umbrella wide open, while his forehand is more akin to a machete.” Yesterday morning, he added that Thiem reminds him of “the tennis players of my time during the Fifties, when tennis was different from today, perhaps more beautiful to watch, a spectacles that intellectuals like Giorgio Bassani enjoyed, and that could have taken place in the genteel backyards sketched out in his novels.” 

Translation and graphics by Andrea Canella

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