He was the most underestimated player coming into this year’s ATP World Tour Finals (he actually probably is the most underestimated player at any moment). Last year, at his first participation to the year-end tournament since 2007, he hasn’t won any match. This year, he’s ensured to finish on top of his group, with two amazing straight-set wins against two top 3 players, both times with a lot of his usual athleticism, but today, even more than Monday, David Ferrer was, simply, phenomenal.
He might only be 5’9″, but today, he shows why we can very well consider him a little giant. He’s not tall, but he’s got the heart and the fighting spirit of a giant. And today, in his own way, he gave a master class to World no 1 Novak Djokovic, whom he defeated 6-3 6-1, the worst loss suffered by Nole the Ist this season.
David Ferrer is not known for being a player who attacks, but more like a relentless counter-puncher, who will always make his opponent hit one more shot. His great athleticism and his incredible speed make it extremely hard for any opponent to outplay him and when they do, it’s because they have found a missing link in his very well-trained machine.
Today, however, Novak Djokovic was unable to find any hole in the Little Giant’s armour. It’s not that he hasn’t tried, but in so doing, he made a very high number of errors, which his opponent, on the other hand, didn’t. After the match, the Serbian admitted to have played his worst match of the season, whereas Ferrer spoke about his own as his best. Both were right and this quite explains the lopsided result, a result that so surprised David Ferrer that instead of celebrating his triumph after the match point, he simply shrugged in disbelief at what he had just accomplished.
Then again, I don’t know how many times I let out awed whistles (and other choice of awed epithets) at each of David Ferrer’s crazy gets, each of his impossible runs to reach a Djokovic drop shot, each of his winners. Because today, Ferrer did not only defend well. He was also very aggressive, which was the key to his success, especially when facing such a great defence as Djokovic’s is. Which left the World no 1 with absolutely no answer.
His way of playing is the exact opposite of that of Roger Federer, but today, the result was the same for David Ferrer: he left his opponent completely baffled, without any response, and amazed those present at the O2 Arena with his own brilliance, inflicting a rare punishment to a nonetheless very worthy opponent.
Incidentally, as both Federer and Ferrer have not only qualified for the semi-finals, but are also ensured the head of their respective groups, they each are as well the oldest players of these groups. If one is a master at regulating his calendar in order to ensure the maximum rest time in between major events, the other is an Ironman, who trains hard and harder still in order to have the best possible shape all year round. Opposites in play style and habits, but in these ATP World Tour Finals, same results. They are the first of the last men standing.
Who will be the other two? Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will come to tennis blows tomorrow to determine who will face David Ferrer in the semi-finals. The other semi-finalist, who will play against Roger Federer, will be played between Djokovic and Tomas Berdych, but in order to qualify, Djokovic will have to defeat Janko Tipsarevic in straight sets, whereas Tomas Berdych has to lose the match or at least a set against David Ferrer. If Djokovic wins in three, Ferrer has to win in order for the World no 1 to make the semis. (Thanks to Stuart Fraser, who gave the whole of the possibles.)