Last year, when the 2012 calendar became known, many were those (including yours truly) who thought that the top players who will have qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals (WTF) prior to the start of the BNP Paribas Masters would either pull out or not last long in Bercy. We were not wrong, as it is exactly what happened, with one exception: David Ferrer.
As one top player after the other bowed out of the tournament, their minds in London and wanting to get a little rest before the last big event of the season, the Spaniard did not think about the WTF for a second, and did what he is known for: he set himself to work to try and win the tournament he was playing in the present.
While the other top players had left Paris to reach the British capital, Ferrer had a golden opportunity to realise a dream of his own: winning his first Masters 1000 title. After all, at 30 years of age, chances like that might not come back often for the Ironman of Javea, who still was made to work hard to only reach the final, having to top Stanislas Wawrinka, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and an inspired Michaël Llodra to do so.
In the final, Ferrer faced the Cinderella story of the tournament: Jerzy Janowicz, who defeated five top 20 players en route to become the first qualifier since Harel Levy in 2000 to reach the final the first time he qualified for a Masters 1000 main draw.
On his way to being the first qualifier to reach a Masters 1000 final since 2007 (Guillermo Cañas in Miami), Janowicz defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber (ranked 19th in the world), Marin Clic (15), Andy Murray (3), Janko Tipsarevic (9), and Gilles Simon (20), growing more disbelieving after each triumph. His unbridled emotion endeared him to everyone as much as his game gained him scores of new admirers.
The 21-year-old from Poland has a potent serve, that’s a fact. However, contrary of the other big servers of the Tour, he backs it up not only with a powerful forehand, but also with deadly drop-shots and a movement that is quite surprising coming from such a tall player (6’8″). In fact, there are many aspects of his game that are reminiscent of Marat Safin’s, only with a bigger serve.
In the final, David Ferrer had to use a lot of patience to break the defences of his young opponent, one by one, often to see every half chance given him smothered by Janowicz’s serve, or by yet another drop-shot. Relying himself on good serving, which helped him get out of very tight service games at the beginning of the match, Ferrer took his second opportunity to break as the Pole was serving to stay in the first set, taking it 6-4.
The Spaniard started the second set a little slowly, being broken in his second service game, but breaking back right after. After a difficult hold in the fifth game, in which he saved two break points (including one on an ace) but managed to hold, Ferrer never looked back, breaking Janowicz right after and holding twice to defeat the qualifier, 6-4 6-3, winning his first Masters 1000 title.
It was Ferrer’s turn to burst into tears, as he collapsed to the ground, overcome by emotion. For David Ferrer, it was a dream come true:
“I thought I wouldn’t win a Masters 1000 but life gives you surprises. A thorn has been removed.” said Ferrer to the Spanish media after the match.
He is not the only one who lived a dream in Paris, and Jerzy Janowicz also reflected along those lines during the trophy ceremony:
“I could never expect something like this a few days ago. […] My life just changed completely. Right now, I’m still dreaming. I’ll need a few days to realise what’s going on.”
In Janowicz’s case, it is more than just one thorn that was removed from his side, as the up-and-comer, who at times had to sleep in his car because he couldn’t afford accommodation during Challenger tournaments, and had to play Futures at the beginning of the year due to lack of money to go to the Australian Open, will definitely not have any more financial issues and will not only be able to attend the Australian Open 2013, he will do it as a seeded player.
Having started the year ranked 221 in the world, Janowicz will finish it inside the top 30, and most probably with quite a few new sponsorship deals in his favour. For the young Pole, dreams came true in Paris, and he can now chase a new dream: reaching the top 10.
Can he do it? Indeed. However, he will have to learn to be consistent and to play at the highest level will help him to achieve it. He has the tools, and now needs to perfect them, as well as improve the lethargic aspects of his game. He might not succeed very early on in the next season, but he will have a chance to do so.
As for David Ferrer, perhaps he was too busy winning his first Masters 1000 to be on the official WTF photo, but he has reached one of his goals and had his moment to shine very bright. His hard work of many years has been rewarded in the best way possible.
Furthermore, Ferrer passed Roger Federer as year-to-date title leader with seven titles, and Novak Djokovic for the most wins in 2012 with 72. All this at 30 years old. Of course, both can change in London, but right now, those leads are his to savour, if only for a day, as Ferrer must now focus on another tournament: the ATP World Tour Finals, where he joined his fellow top 8.
Nevertheless, the announced disaster of the BNP Paribas Masters ended up being a tournament where dreams came true for one of the most humble veterans, and for a very talented up-and-comer.