Ferrer: 'I Will Fight Until The Last Point'
David Ferrer loves competing. It doesn’t matter if he’s retiring in just more than a month after the Mutua Madrid Open. His current ATP Ranking of No. 155 doesn’t mean much to him. The former World No. 3 simply enjoys leaving every ounce of physical and emotional energy he has out on the court.
“It means a lot because for me it’s a really special day. It’s my last year playing professional tennis and winning this type of match against a Top 10 player like Sascha is a gift,” Ferrer told ATPTour.com. “I’m really happy. Now I want to enjoy this moment. I’m trying to enjoy every point and every moment that I still have."
Zverev cruised through the first set against the wild card, just weeks after dismissing Ferrer in straight sets in Acapulco. Closing out the Spaniard would not have been a surprise.
But Ferrer did not give up, a trait that has in a way defined his career. Instead, he found a way to win, battling past the reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion to earn his first Top 5 victory in more than four years. The tennis world has seen Ferrer’s fighting spirit for nearly two decades, and now it gets to pay him back. So as Ferrer scratched and clawed against Zverev, pumping his fist after every tough point he won, the fans showered him with roars of applause.
“I cannot explain it. For me, tennis is everything. It’s one life. I like this sport a lot. Tennis has given me everything and I hope to give something to tennis that I learned,” Ferrer said. “Until the last tournament, until the last point that I play, I will fight.”
“He obviously is a warrior, he fights like crazy,” Zverev said. “He’s still playing unbelievable tennis.”
Ferrer’s attitude has earned him the respect of the entire locker room. The 36-year-old has won 27 ATP Tour titles and more than 700 tour-level matches. But his countryman, Feliciano Lopez, says that while everyone knows how good he is on the court, it’s the example he set that resonates most with the players.
“This is the most important thing that I think he will take with him for his life. Everybody loves him, everybody respects him, everybody thinks he’s an example,” Lopez said. “Besides everything he won, which is a lot, I will say this is even more important, to have that respect and that love from your close ones and from the people in your sport, from the people who you see every day.”
Perhaps most rewarding for Ferrer will be the future stars of the sport that walk down the path that he set down. Spaniard Jaume Munar, who qualified for the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals, grew up looking up to Ferrer.
“David is amazing for me, I’m in love with this guy. I always say that David is my idol,” Munar said. “David is a person who is a ‘10’ in life and he’s also this way on the tennis court. I have very much respect for him. I think and I hope he can have a wonderful career outside of tennis and a wonderful life. Everything is going to change for him in the next month, but I’m pretty sure that the person he has been during all these years on the tennis tour, he will be all his life.”
A ‘retirement tour’ of sorts does not change Ferrer’s approach. While the 2013 Miami finalist and two-time semi-finalist could ride off into the sunset and nobody would bat an eye, he is still battling. He has no plans of finishing his career quietly.
“My motivation is playing at a good level. It’s to be competitive. I practised this pre-season to do this,” Ferrer said. “I know I cannot play my best level anymore, but every match I’m going to play, these last tournaments, I want to enjoy and play very good. It’s very important for me to rest and it’s very important to keep [high] energy in every match that I play.”
More than anything else, Ferrer is still keeping his ears open. For a player who has inspired others, he is still picking things up himself. To him, every battle on the court is not just a tennis match, but an opportunity to learn.
"I am learning a lot. I’m trying to learn every day that I’m playing tennis and to listen,” Ferrer said. “For me, it’s very important to listen to other opinions and the evolution in this sport and also in my life."