The Barcelona Open final made me think a lot about the injustice of being David Ferrer in the actual tennis world. Sunday’s final was the fourth the gritty Spaniard was playing in the Catalan city. All four times, his opponent was Rafael Nadal, and all four times, including this one, he fought a mighty fight only to end up with the plate rather than the trophy.
Earlier this year, Ferrer admitted that the dream he has is to win the Conde de Godó. This time, he came the closest to his dream, only to see it escaping from his hands once again.
Of course, in this final, we objectively have to admit that he was quite to blame, tensing whenever he had the advantage, thus losing right away an early break in the first set, where he also busted no less than five set points. Then, fighting back from an early break down in the second set, he broke Nadal twice and even served for it, only to get fast broken and seeing Nadal winning the last three games of the match for a 7-6(1) 7-5 win from the Mallorcan (his seventh title in Barcelona).
There is no doubt in my mind that David Ferrer is one of the best players on Tour. Further than his actual ranking (he’s currently ranked no 6 in the world), his immense consistency when he’s not injured (which happened quite a bit until 2010), his incredible grit and fighting spirit (garra), as well as his formidable shape and his ability to make the best he always could with the limited physical capacities he has (a 5’9″ almost midget in a 6’+ world), make him a unique athlete and one who deserves admiration. Whereas his charming personality and his class, both on court and off, deserve affection.
Furthermore, in the actual tennis world, he is, to me as well as to many, the second best clay court player on Tour, after Rafael Nadal. In fact, were it not for the one who is arguably the best clay-courter in the history of the game, his record on this surface would probably be even more glorious than its actual eight titles and would most probably include a couple of Masters 1000 crowns and at least one title in Barcelona.
The injustice of being David Ferrer in the actual tennis world, to me, is this: he is definitely in the right place but obviously at the wrong time. He does all the right things, is a training machine, compensated for a less advantageous physique with a shape and a game that makes him one of the toughest players to beat on Tour. However, the glory and recognition his feats would entitle him to receive is often not given him, as he is very often overlooked, at times snubbed, by many fans and experts alike, when not outright by tournaments.
Still Ferrer battles on, with his usual garra, and charms us with his immense class and humility. Seeing him so beat down, Sunday, after his dream of winning Barcelona had once again escaped him, made me realize that again, it’s a very great guy who finishes second, one who really would deserve a better fate.
And yet, classy Ferrer admits that Rafael Nadal, the one who can be deemed responsible for his probably not having the glory his game would permit him to get, is his favourite player. Paradoxical? Maybe, but not that much. After all, Nadal is definitely one who encourages admiration by being the clay monster he is, and the fighter he is, day in and day out.
Sunday, in Barcelona, we were treated to an incredible final, a final where heart met heart, fight faced fight. One had to win. Again, Nadal was on the winning side and Ferrer, on the other. Yet a huge part of me would have hoped for a different result, just this once. It came close but wasn’t.
We can only wish David Ferrer that one time, it will.