David Ferrer: The man who simply peaked at the wrong time

Shahida Jacobs

He is likely to feature in pieces of “best players never to win a Grand Slam” in years to come, but David Ferrer is spot on when he says “I gave it all I had and I have no regrets”.

The Spaniard turns 36 today and is in the twilight of his career, but it is a case of what could have been had he been born a couple of years earlier.

If Ferrer was playing during any other era, he would probably have been the proud owner of a couple of Grand Slam trophies, especially on his favourite clay-court surface at Roland-Garros.

Unfortunately for him, his prime years happened to be during a period when the Big Four of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were at their peaks.

Instead, he has to be satisfied with 27 ATP singles titles, with the biggest being one being the 2012 Paris Masters crown, a career-high ranking of No 3 and a French Open runner-up spot.

In case you were wondering just how unlucky he was, here you go.

In the eight Grand Slams from January 2012 and September 2013, he reached one final, three semi-finals and four quarter-finals and on six of those occasions he lost against one of the Big Four.

The closest he came to lifting a major trophy was at the 2013 French Open when he was unfortunately no match for Nadal in the French Open final as the King of Clay swept him aside 6–3, 6–2, 6–3 in a lopsided match.

He may have just fallen short of the Big Four category, but Ferrer has always been known as a tireless competitor. A hustler, a player who will chase down a lost cause, a player who will always give his best.

“I try to be solid and consistent,” he once told Tennisviewmag.com. “There are plenty of players who have big serves, but also quite a few who don’t. You can make up for this.

“If you don’t have that weapon, you’re usually better at controlling the ball, or you’re more agile moving around the court. If you’re tall, agile and you have a big serve like Djokovic or Murray, then that’s ideal!”

It is no surprise that his record against Federer and Nadal in particular is pretty poor. He has played 17 times against Federer and has lost all 17 matches while he has at least had some success against Nadal as he won six of their 24 matches.

For a brief period between 2010 and 2014 he was considered to be the best of the rest.

He appeared in seven ATP Masters 1,000 finals and he lost six of them (two against Nadal, two against Murray, one against Federer and one against Djokovic) with his only success coming at the Paris Masters in 2012 when he beat Pole Jerzy Janowicz in straight sets.

Often nicknamed the “Little Beast” or “Little Terrier” because of his tenacity, Ferrer’s peers rated him as one of the best.

“The person who is not respecting David as one of the greatest players of the world – and not for one year, for a long time – it’s because that person doesn’t know anything about tennis,” Nadal once said of his compatriot.

The man himself, though, has no regrets and one day when he hangs up his racquet he can do so with his held high.

“I never got a Grand Slam (title), I couldn’t do it and I shouldn’t think much about that. Over the years, I gave it all I had and I have no regrets,” he said.