Nobody does persistence quite like David Ferrer. In more than a decade on tour, the Spaniard has demonstrated that he’ll run, hit and defend all day, if required, to achieve a win. And in a career of incremental improvements and steadily increasing milestones, Ferrer is now a Wimbledon quarter-finalist for the first time, at the age of 30, after soundly defeating Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 to set up a meeting with local favourite Andy Murray.
In a match that was briefly delayed as the Centre Court roof was closed because of rain, Ferrer initially required all his persistence against del Potro, with the Spaniard pushed to six deuces and saving four break points to hold serve in a nine-minute opening game. However that also allowed the hard-working Ferrer to establish a theme – having earned his biggest opportunity at the All England Club, he’ll do whatever is required to build on it.
It was ultimately a merciless victory from the light-footed Ferrer, his ground strokes blistering and his resilience complete as he broke in the fourth game of the first set, twice in the second and in the eighth game of the third to achieve victory in just over two hours. Del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion, in fact registered three more winners than Ferrer’s 34 but became increasingly unravelled by his devastatingly consistent opponent, with a damaging 20 errors by the end of the match.
While reluctant to call it his best grass court win, Ferrer agreed it was his most dominant performance of the 2012 season. “Of course, in this season, grass court, today it was the best match,” he noted.
A winner in s’-Hertogenbosch prior to Wimbledon, Ferrer is now on a nine-match winning streak on grass, which is ominous news for Murray, who has lost his last two meetings to the Spaniard, including the quarter-finals of the French Open.
Ferrer acknowledges that “maybe my return is my best weapon in grass court, because in grass court I don't have a really power with my serve” but also note that the change of surface also creates a different challenge against Murray.
“It's going to be very difficult to beat Andy in all surfaces, but in grass court is more difficult,” he said. “He's a favourite player because he's better than me, and tomorrow I will try to do my best. I will have to play my best tennis to beat him.”
Ferrer’s best tennis, however, is something that keeps getting better and better. In his best season so far, he’s claimed four of his 15 career-titles – which ranks alongside Roger Federer and Nicolas Almagro as the most of any player on tour.
Asked to explain how he is striking such formidable form so late in his career, the Spaniard struggled to find the reasoning. “I don't know exactly. I am trying every year to improve my game. I had very great years in 2010, 2011, and this year also,” he said, before noting the value of full health.
“I am lucky because I don't have too many injuries, important injuries.”
The absence of serious injuries also points to Ferrer’s relentless efforts in maintaining full fitness, which has seen him contest every Grand Slam – 39 in total – since debuting at the 2003 Australian Open.
At most of those majors he’s been overshadowed by prolific countryman, Rafael Nadal, but with the world No. 2 exiting in the second round, Ferrer is increasingly confident as the last Spaniard standing. “Of course I prefer Rafael or Spanish [player] here with me because I am only with my team,” he said. “But I am doing the same [as] if they are here.”
Whether that includes advancing further at the All England Club remains to be seen, but Ferrer would have to be proud of the persistence that has taken him this far.