Former number three in the world, three times winner of the Davis Cup, Grand Slam finalist and finalist at the ATP 2007 Finals: always closer, always an (unbridgeable) step from the best ones.
Written by Fabio Valente
It is impossible for anyone to talk about David Ferrer without showing even a bit of compassion for the history of the Iberian tennis player, born in Javea, in the south-east of Spain. The reason is all in the myriad of wins and successes achieved by this humble player, now close to his thirty-fifth birthday, who has perpetually missed the last step needed to ensure his name a prominent place in the tennis history books. Living in Valencia, David Ferrer is at the moment the player with the highest number of ATP trophies won who still lacks a Grand Slam: his 26 titles, plus 3 Davis Cup trophies and 2 ATP doubles ones, fill a collection where still lacking the highest award, in search of which the hispanic keeps fighting with indomitable spirit.
Yet, David was just a few steps from conquering that precious trophy on his beloved surface: red clay. We are in Paris, during the 2013 edition of the Roland Garros: Ferrer is an unstoppable lion and a serious contender for the final title: his belief grows while the Spaniard tops his opponents with easy wins. The final obstacle on his path answers to the name of Rafael Nadal. The Mallorcan has been literally unbeatable for years on clay and does not hesitate to inflict a huge defeat to his friend with a dominating 6-3,6-2,6-3 scoreline. David Ferrer has no other choice than coming back home empty-handed followed by his everlasting desire for revenge, fight, adventure.
David Ferrer often arouses both compassion and admiration at the same time and although he is not among the most popular tennis players he is still surrounded by lots of loyal and faithful fans. The reason is simple: Ferrer never gives up. He does not stop fighting until the very last point of every match, showing a spirit out of the ordinary which can warm the coldest of the heart. Ferrer is a worker, a warrior, a fearless, impavid player. Ferrer is the working class hero, quoting some literary masterpieces. Ferrer is an example for the fighters and an ideal for the dreamers. Ferrer is the man who changes countless sweaty shirts during the same match and who plays endless rallies to win a point, because scoring a point against the Spaniard could be tougher than a victory. Ferrer is all of this and much more, but often many forget about it.
David turned pro at the age of eighteen and quickly showing all of those qualities, becoming soon a tough opponent for a lot of top players. His numbers and stats are impressive considering his average talent: Ferrer is everything but a predestined as he perfectly embodies the idea that hard work will get you unexpected results. Every win for David is entirely the result of his constant efforts, which make each triumph sweeter, every achievements worthy of being celebrate. The story of Ferrer is therefore made up with smiles than with regret: a best ranking of number three in the world, three Davis Cup conquered with his national team and many great memories around the world decorate a career which now lasts for nearly two decades.
Today, in spite of being almost 35, David Ferrer is still one of the best active tennis players, especially between the humans ones outside the so-called “Fab Four“. Constantly one step away from the pantheon of greats, David is currently ranked twelfth in the world and only Roger Federer is older than him in the top 20. Not bad for an untalented player who is only able to play a defensive game, as many of his detractors think. Unluckily, David Ferrer has not started 2016 in the best way: only a few results are worth of a mention and some unexpected defeats led to the creation of doubts about his conditions and motivation. He lost to Almagro, against which he had won all the previous 15 meetings, he was outclassed by the young Thiem, he was beaten also by Dolgopolov, Pouille, Seppi, Mahut, Ramos-Vinolas. Forced to reflect about it, Ferrer asked himself the question that everyone of his age ask in front of the mirror in the morning before another hard day at work.
“And now?”. He does not know the answer. Or maybe, he is not sure. “I do not know yet what I will do in the coming weeks, – he announced a few weeks ago – I rested and I will try to do my best during the last part of the year, for sure. In my career I have travelled and played so much: it comes for everyone a time when you have to stop and live with your family“. Melancholic, sad words from the Spaniard which led many to think about a possible close retirement for him. The ability to play with Time is one of David’s best quality, but also Time one day will prevail.
In our hearts we know the train which lead to the highest achievements has already passed through several times in front of the haunted eyes of Ferrer. David has been inaccurate sometimes or stopped at the wrong stations or busier than he should had: fact is that he still has not taken that train to reach those places. David Ferrer does not want to give up and still hopes every day as he keeps waiting for his last run.
And he wait right there, a step away from the best ones.