There are times when one wonders why some players have great standing but are always slighted. When I was writing about the bizarre ATP World Tour Finals (WTF) schedule, yesterday, I never thought that what I thought might happen would, indeed, happen.
Once again, one of the best players in the world was victim of a blatant slight, and even though I have been explained that this was a business reason (to sell more tickets for the day session), the fact remains: David Ferrer was, once again, treated like a door mat.
I am sure many remember Indian Wells, when he was, purely and simply, omitted by the schedulers (if not, I refer you to this post I wrote on the subject back then).
Yet very time it happens, Ferrer acts with the same class, politeness, courtesy, and professionalism that endeared him to many a fan over the years, same as his on-court grit and fighting spirit gained him many admirers.
This time, it was almost no different, as the scheduling of the WTF made him complain to the ATP that he could end up playing a match with no significance rather than play to win a match that could force force a meaningful and deciding night session encounter.
His complaining was to no avail and the schedule remained as it was. Consequently, Juan Martín Del Potro, by defeating Roger Federer 7-6(3) 4-6 6-3, sealed Ferrer’s fate even before the Spaniard stepped on court, as the round robin format of the WTF made it such that even with a straight-set win over Janko Tipsarevic, Ferrer could not finish second of Group B. Worse, with Del Potro winning, Tipsarevic winning in straight sets would have made the Spaniard end up last of his group.
In press, the Swiss admitted that he felt more disappointment for not allowing Ferrer the chance to qualify than for losing the match, and that he was thinking more about him than about the possibility of facing either Murray or Djokovic in Saturday’s semi-finals. This says a lot about the respect Federer has for Ferrer.
The Spaniard learned the result of the first singles match while warming up for his own match and we can’t blame him for having been disappointed, a deception that showed when he stepped on the court to play Tipsarevic, who quickly went up a double break in front of a disgruntled and moody Ferrer.
But then Ferrer remembered who he was and slowly put the deception aside to fight back the lost service games, keeping the score close and coming really close to even it, losing the set narrowly, 4-6.
The gladiator had nevertheless awakened and Ferrer went on to give a tennis clinic to his opponent, taking the match 4-6 6-3 6-1. He did not only fight his opponent; David Ferrer also fought his own deception at playing a match without any significance (other than 200 ranking points and some $130,000) in the outcome of the tournament, with great pride and courage, when he could have just not bothered.
Slighted and snubbed more often than the others, the World n° 5 has, again, showed the world what a true champion he is, both on and off the tennis court. He is, in my mind, one of the best examples of professionalism and integrity it is possible to find, and I am only wishing that, someday, everyone will realise it and give David Ferrer the credit he is due.
After all, Ferrer always works extremely hard both in training and during the matches, never gives up, and his dedication and true humility is a model for everyone who wants to play the game at the highest level.
Furthermore, at 30, the Ironman of Javea is still, to this day, the player with the most wins on Tour this season (74 and the possibility of two more next week, in the Davis Cup final), and with the most titles won (7, which can only be evened if Roger Federer wins the WTF).
It would be high time for everyone who snubs him to realise what a jewel of a player and a true gentleman David Ferrer is.
What about the doubles?
When I entered the ATP site to look for some statistical data for this post, I came across the advertising for tomorrow’s schedule:
Apparently, there are only singles semi-finals on at the WTF tomorrow, and the doubles are a side show.
However, the line-up of doubles semi-finals promises to be as entertaining as the round robin matches have been (which is a lot), starting by one that should be very intense opposing Mahesh Bhupathi/Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes/Radek Stepanek, whereas the night doubles semi-final will be played between Cinderella team and Wimbledon champions Jonathan Marray/Frederik Nielsen and Spaniards Marcel Granollers/Marc López.
I understand that the singles is the biggest part of the game. What I don’t understand is how the ATP Tour would want to promote the doubles, but never advertise it properly, let alone show some matches at Masters 1000 level.
Talking about slighted…