Should we consider David Ferrer as a contender in New York? It may seem like an odd and admittedly almost pointless question to pose considering that the top three seeds at the U.S. Open, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray are all considered heavy favorites for the title. But why not consider Ferrer who climbed into the No. 4 seeding after his fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal withdrew from the event.
Despite having reached the semifinals in New York back in 2007 (his best ever showing) this year Ferrer was picked by many at the start of the tournament not as a dark horse, but as being vulnerable in his section of the draw with some even thinking he might not even get out of the first week. But as we all know, Ferrer is nothing but reliable and once again he finds himself in the fourth round against Richard Gasquet. And it’s a good matchup for Ferrer as he’s seven and one lifetime when playing the Frenchman.
But Ferrer is playing in New York in somewhat odd conditions. He’s not expected to win the title though he’s clearly considered a tough out for anyone. He’s also not receiving any additional attention from the media though he’s a top four seed and now the last Spaniard in the men’s draw. He’s constantly viewed as a clay court specialist, but in 2012 he’s won five titles on all surfaces including grass, proving his game translates anywhere. Now into the second week, those who predicted he wouldn’t be here now expect Ferrer to do well enough to possibly reach the semis but then not challenge the elite on the final weekend at Flushing Meadows.
But could he? Ferrer upset Nadal in the second round back in 2007 on his way to the semifinals where he then lost in straights to Djokovic. Ferrer has beaten Djokovic before so there always lies the possibility that Ferrer could surprise the Serbian again should they meet in the semis this year. And though no one questions his dogged determination, the real question with Ferrer seems to be does he truly believe he can take the next step and reach his first Major final?
No one questions Ferrer’s desire to win, but they might question if he really wants to be considered among the very elite of the sport. Winning is great, but the spotlight is not for him. Ferrer off-court persona is one that doesn’t really seek the limelight unlike some of his fellow David Cup teammates.
Ferrer was asked earlier if he believes this U.S. Open is an opportunity for him to perhaps get more people to know who he is. As expected Ferrer answered in his usual humble way. “No, I don’t care. I’m trying to do my job. I will try to win all the matches as possible and nothing else, no? I am in fourth round, and only happy for that.”
But Ferrer’s relative anonymity might change in New York. Ferrer has long been under Nadal’s shadow for good reason but with Nadal continuing to deal with an ongoing knee issue while his fellow Davis Cup teammates Nicolas Almagro, Fernando Verdasco, and Feliciano Lopez seem to have peaked in their various careers, Ferrer will likely continue to stay in the top five or even higher and could find himself a top four seed at Major again next year. And if he only has to beat two of the the top three to win a Grand Slam title, shouldn’t he be able to do that if things fall his way?
Just as he did when he started playing at the U.S. Open last week, Ferrer’s chances still remain up in the air. While players like Juan Martin Del Potro and Tomas Berdych have bigger firepower, it may be Ferrer’s all-court game that could prove to better at diffusing the likes of Djokovic and perhaps Murray (if Murray beats Federer in their semi). It’s all hypothetical, but since many made hypothetical picks that someone else beside Ferrer would reach the semis in his section, shouldn’t we at least give Ferrer his due and say he has a hypothetical shot at the title?
He may not want to be in the spotlight like some of his fellow pros, but Ferrer’s game this week in New York may well put him into “Super Saturday” and make him a worthy challenger for the final Major of the year on the biggest stage in tennis.