David Ferrer should retire last year. The four-time champion from Auckland had decided to hang up his bat after the US Open after almost two decades on the road.
After a call of the organizer of ASB Classic with a wildcard and some conversations with other events, he had a heart change. The 36-year-old now goes on a farewell tour of his six favorite tournaments.
He will not go to the Australian Open or Wimbledon. In his native Spain there are two or three events, a couple in South America and this, almost 20,000 km from his residence in Barcelona.
Ferrer has developed a deep affection for the Auckland event – and the feeling is mutual. He has become an icon of the New Zealand tennis summer.
People always treat me like a New Zealander, and that’s one of the reasons I’m here, “said Ferrer, who plays Dutchman Robin Haase today.” Last year I had five or six priorities, and Auckland was one of them.
When Ferrer came to Auckland for the first time, John Mitchell was All Blacks coach, Helen Clark was prime minister and Roger Federer had not won a grand slam yet. It was 2003.
“I played for 14 years here in Auckland,” Ferrer said. “Of course it’s a different language, a different culture, but when I’m here, I feel very happy and very comfortable, and for me, it’s usually very difficult to be comfortable in a country where the Language is different. “
It’s an amazing scenario, something we probably will not see again. And in this time Ferrer has probably become the most popular male foreign player of modern times. This is partly because of his style, for he is famous for his relentless effort and irresistible attitude. That’s also because of his success.
Ferrer has won four titles – along with Roy Emerson – and was unbeaten here from 2011 to 2013. Four more times he reached the semi-finals, three times the last eight.
His fighting spirit was demonstrated last year. He was outside the top 30 for the first time in 2004 and had his 35th birthday behind him. However, he has passed the last four years, including victories over 2017 finalist Joao Sousa and Australian Open semi-final Hyeon Chung, before dropping to Juan Martin Del Potro.
David is an absolute legend in many ways, “said tournament director Karl Budge. It is impossible to measure what he has done for this event. His loyalty was great, and it was easy to come back every year, even if he was among the top four or five in the world. I do not think we’ll ever see anyone like him. “
Today could be the farewell of the king. Ferrer has played more than 1000 games in his career and is one of only four active players, along with Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic, with over 700 wins. But another victory in his adopted country would be something special.
“I’m very happy to play one of my favorite tournaments to play one last time,” Ferrer said. “It’s going to be tough, but it’s nice to play centrecourt again.”
• Gael Monfils is not an ASB classic. The Frenchman announced last night that he had been forced to retire because of a quadriceps injury.
It is a big blow to the tournament, especially after the resignations of Tomas Berdych and defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut. Monfils, known on the field for his stunning drums and acrobatics, was the biggest raffle of this year’s event.