David Ferrer Advances in his Penultimate Tournament

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David Ferrer decided to play a very cut-down schedule this year, limiting himself to six tournaments. The Spaniard will retire in two weeks at the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open. He’s shown patches of good play this year, especially in Miami where he defeated Sam Querrey and Alexander Zverev on his way to a third-round defeat against Frances Tiafoe. He has already called it quits at the Grand Slam level as is now finishing his career with a couple of tournaments on home soil. Ferrer is a four-time runner-up at the Barcelona Open – all losses came against Rafael Nadal.

The opponent

Mischa Zverev scored a huge upset win over Ferrer back in Rotterdam in 2008. However, his game isn’t really well-suited to clay (although he had some good results, like a final in Geneva two years ago). Serve and volley, chip and charge, taking the ball very early – these are all things Mischa excels at and the irregular bounce and more time for his opponents to pass really hurt his clay court chances. Besides that, the older Zverev has been in disastrous form this year so far, getting just one win in seven matches (it came via a third-set retirement from Nicola Kuhn; the Spaniard led 6-4 5-2 and wasted eight match points).

The match vs Mischa Zverev

Just as expected, Ferrer was ready to pounce on Mischa’s struggles from the very beginning and grabbed a quick 3-0 lead. The breakpoint in the second game was the only one he took out of nine in the entire set, but he managed to maintain that lead and serve out the set six games to three. Zverev took just over 50 percent of points on his delivery.

Ferrer broke to love in the third game of the second set. Every longer baseline rally went to him and Zverev just seemed clueless, not knowing how to play this match strategically. His net approaches weren’t working and grinding turned out to be just ineffective. The Spaniard struggled with deep, faster balls but Zverev just couldn’t produce them with enough consistency. It seemed like he forgot about his aggressive nature and most often just gave the ball back to Ferrer. Two more breaks soon followed and the match was over in just over an hour 6-3, 6-1. Mischa double-faulted to allow the Spaniard to seal the deal.

What lies ahead for Ferrer?

Well, rather, who lies ahead? The Spaniard has already defeated Lucas Pouille this year at the Hopman Cup but lost both of their encounters back in 2016. The Frenchman hasn’t won a match since his miraculous run to Australian Open semifinals but he’ll undoubtedly provide much more of a challenge than Mischa Zverev. Ferrer’s groundstrokes didn’t really look too impressive today and Pouille actually has the ability to expose them.

Should he come through, there’s a possible encounter against Rafael Nadal looming in the third round. Last year at the US Open, Ferrer was not at all angry that he drew his more accomplished compatriot and said it’s actually very exciting for him to play Nadal yet again. That match ended in a retirement from the older Spaniard mid-way through the second set and I’m sure he’d love to get another shot at the 17-time Grand Slam champion, who leads the head-to-head between them 25-6.

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