Diversity in tennis is multi-faceted – geography/language, playing style/technique, talent, favored surface and so on. In a sense these are all innate characteristics that most players have no control over. Very few players, if any, manage to iron out flaws in their technique,
There are some other factors, however, that are cultivated, rather than acquired; some which differentiate the best from the rest. Determination & grit are qualities lauded by the pundits of the game, and rightly so. A very small minority of players possess them and it has taken them to great heights, time and again.
The Spanish Terrier: Career achievements
From, what you’ve read so far, you might be wondering about the “Other” Spaniard. The man who deserves all the respect we have for him. Make no mistake, Ferrer is a warrior. Despite that, Ferrer has never been considered a serious contender at Grand Slam level. He has always been labelled as “the consistent guy” that reaches the quarterfinal and then loses to the Big Four. Thus far in his career, Ferrer’s mental qualities have not materialised into a maiden GS title.
David Ferrer has 26 career ATP Titles, including a Masters 1000 title at the BNP Paribas Masters, Paris-Bercy (d. Jerzy Janowicz), a Grand Slam Final appearance at Roland Garros 2013 (l. Nadal 3-6, 2-6, 3-6) and a Year End Championship Final at TMC Shanghai 2007 (lost to Federer 2-6, 3-6, 2-6). In terms of prize money, Ferrer is the 7th highest of all time, much higher than many other grand slam champions.
Despite his lack of big time success over the course of a long career, Ferrer is a former World No.3 and remains one of the most respected veterans on the ATP World Tour. Incredibly, Ferrer (alongside, Nadal and Robredo) is one of only three active players to win more than 200 matches on both hard and clay courts.
Physical Fitness and playing style:
Ferrer is one of the most calm, disciplined, competitive, tenacious, dogged, agile, and fittest players on the tour. Most of victories are based on his consistent baseline play, foot-speed, and determination. Although he does not possess powerful ground-strokes, his ability to keep the ball deep in play and move his opponents around the court has allowed him to be successful on clay and hard courts. Darren Cahill and Roger Federer have hailed Ferrer as one of the best returners in the men’s game.
Lack of explosiveness:
Every player has their own trademark weapons, Federer’s accurate serve and liquid whip forehand or Djokovic’s deep returns and double-handed “cconcrete-wall” backhand or Nadal’s ferocious forehand and acute angled passing shots or even the power game of Wawrinka revolving around his single-handed backhand.
This is the part that hurts Ferrer the most. Although, he has an all around solid game that can hold its own against the world’s best, the general lack of explosiveness in any part of his game almost always seems to let him down.
When you think of Ferrer, you can’t find a particular shot that he can rely on to finish off points. Ferrer has a relatively weak and fault-prone serve, decent FH and BH (consistently deep but lacks power), decent net game (misses easy volleys under pressure), a weak smash (which is something almost every other player does better than Ferrer).
Ferrer is physically short, by tennis standards, and this doesn’t favour him either. A shorter player has trouble with the serve and overhead smashes naturally. A shorter wingspan also means lesser reach for defense.
The hunt is not yet over, but time is slipping:
In tennis terms, Federer is the complete contrast of Ferrer. Federer has the most complete offensive arsenal in the history of the game and even he can’t break-through the defensive prowess of the likes of Djokovic, Nadal at the Grand Slam level.
In an era when a player as insanely talented as Federer has failed to win a Grand Slam since 2012, despite reaching the final 3 times, one cannot hold out much hope for Ferrer’s cause.
Despite all of his woes, Ferrer has managed to stay relatively injury free and competes at more tournaments than his younger opponents. His single-minded determination and level-headedness will certainly bring him success, not just in tennis, but in life overall. All we can do now, is tip our hat to the fighting veteran and wish him all the very best.