The 2019 Mutua Madrid Open this week sees the final tournament of one of the most watchable players in the modern game. At the age of 37 years old and still playing some great tennis, David Ferrer has decided to retire from the game.
Ferrer has been one of the most consistent players on the ATP World Tour over the last 15 years. An ever familiar presence in main draws of tournaments all over the world, the Spaniard will finish his career with 27 ATP Titles, a remarkable number when you consider the era of players he has played in. When asked who is the greatest man never to have won a Slam, the Spaniard’s name is often placed near the top of the list.
What makes Ferrer’s career even more phenomenal is that he did not have the weapons of other top players in the sport. He did not possess a bomb of a serve, a bullet of a forehand, or a thundering two handed backhand. However, he was a player who could master every facet of the game at a high level, whether it be technically or tactically. He was a player who was very hard to hit through, and is affectionately known as a player who would grind out points and force his opponent to become involved in lung-bursting rallies.
What Ferrer had, that many players struggle with, was an exceptional attitude and an outstanding mental resilience. He wasn’t the sort of player to smash his racket, moan at an umpire, or give up in a match when the going got tough. Even when down and out in matches, the Spaniard with his signature grunt would continue to be stubborn and make life difficult for his opponent. This ensured that he was a must-watch player who would always be involved in exciting matches.
Nothing shows this more than what Ferrer did in his final few tournaments. After each loss, he left his bandanna on the court. Ferrer knew that he left everything out on the court in his career, and he never held anything back.
A career without regrets
When players come to the end of their careers, often the first question people ponder is whether they got the most out of their careers. With Ferrer, the answer to this question is a resounding yes. He has recorded many impressive results. The Spaniard reached at least the quarterfinals of each of the four Grand Slams, reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open and US Open, and the final of Roland Garros in 2013.
He reached the finals of the ATP Tour finals in 2007 and won the Paris Masters in Bercy in 2012. When you look at the big matches he has lost, it was often his opponent playing amazing tennis rather than Ferrer playing poorly. In that Roland Garros final in 2013, it was a case of Rafael Nadal playing remarkable tennis. Ferrer couldn’t have done any more to beat him; Nadal was simply too good.
On a personal note, David Ferrer has always been one of those players I admired and looked up to growing up watching the sport. He made the game look ridiculously easy, with one of the most smoothest service motions of any player in the men’s or women’s game. Some players rely on playing trick shots or getting involved in controversy to energize the crowd, yet Ferrer didn’t need to use such gimmicks. He entertained many a crowd with the way he played the game, with a physical game style that relied on speed, precision movement and being aggressive from the baseline.
I would have loved it if he had been able to win a Grand Slam, but in what is arguably the golden generation of our sport, it would be fair to say that he has been unlucky in the standard of players around him. As Rafela Nadal has said, Ferrer is arguably a better caliber of player than some of the player who have won Grand Slams.
David Ferrer’s retirement is undoubtedly an emotional moment for both him and all of the fans that have followed him over the years. You could hear and feel the energy in every crowd at each of his matches this year, including Miami, Barcelona and Madrid. They didn’t want him to lose, because they always wanted to see him for another match. The game is indebted to the legacy he has left behind.
Muchas Gracias David.
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