David Ferrer’s Wimbledon campaign has come to an end in the quarter-finals for the second year in a row.
However, the hard-working Spaniard has every right to consider himself somewhat unlucky coming up against an inspired Juan Martin Del Potro, who played some of his best tennis to win 6-2 6-4 7-6(5).
Both players entered the match with an injury cloud hanging over his head – 24-year-old Del Potro with his knee, while Ferrer was the subject of pre-match rumours regarding his ankle and an abandoned practice session this morning. Rumours that he dismissed.
“No, nothing. I talk with the doctor. We did the same than the other times with the infiltration. I have pain, but when I tried to warm up I can't warm up because I have pain with my ankle.
“I did the same yesterday, after yesterday, and I won the match, so is not excuse.”
With the match just five points old, the burly Argentinean crashed heavily to the ground, hyper-extending his damaged left knee.
As the doctor treated world No.8 Del Potro with what he later described as “magic pills”, Ferrer sat quietly deep in thought. After the match he said that he didn’t change the way he played and that Del Potro’s injury was not a disruption.
“No, I think it doesn't affect,” said Ferrer. “He was fell off, but, you know, the first game I won finally because I had breakpoint down. And finally, I think Del Potro, he play better than me. He deserve to win today.”
Del Potro produced some of the most inspiring tennis this Centre Court has ever seen on the way to the semis – by far his best result at The Championships. No matter what question Ferrer asked of Del Potro, the Argentinean had the answer.
He served powerfully and accurately, winning 87 per cent of first serves and offering Ferrer just two chances to break his serve for the entire match.
Sadly for Ferrer, his greatest strength – consistency – was in short supply today. As Del Potro ripped screaming forehands that seemed destined to hit the line, Ferrer was missing by the smallest of margins. The Spaniard’s 22 unforced errors for the match double that of his opponent.
“I think the first set I didn't play so good. I didn't serve very consistent with the first serve.
“But in the second and third I play better. But Juan Martin, he was more focus, he was playing more aggressive than me, and he serve very, very good the all three sets.”
Ferrer was close enough in the third-set tie-break, levelling at 5-5 but some big hitting from Del Potro sealed his place in the semi-finals where he will meet top seed Novak Djokovic, who disposed of Czech No.7 seed Tomas Berdych in straight sets.
For Ferrer it’s time for a break. When he wakes up on Monday he will have been elevated to third place in the rankings, not that this will change him.
“No, change nothing. Is only a number. I am very happy for that, but nothing. I will do the same like I am doing.
“It is very important for me and my career. I never have been 3 of the world, so I am very satisfaction myself.”
It’s just reward for what has been an intense period for Ferrer who has already played 53 matches in 2013. The Spaniard will return home now to spend two weeks holidaying with family and friends, seek treatment for his ankle and then begin preparations for the US hard-court season.
And, it has to be said, it’s a testament to Ferrer’s character that he refused to use his injury as an excuse but admitted that it will require treatment from his physio.
“Now I think I have time. I think I have never been three weeks or four weeks stop playing any tournament. So now is perfect for to rest. I am 31 years old and I need to take my time.”
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
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