David Ferrer prepares to serve during a match at the Paris Masters last month. Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Getty Images / November 3, 2015
David Ferrer prepares to serve during a match at the Paris Masters last month. Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Getty Images / November 3, 2015

As Rafa Nadal can attest, gutsy David Ferrer is greatest of the grand slam-less



Who is the best men’s tennis player in the Open era never to win a grand slam singles title?

Marcelo Rios will figure high in most pundits’ lists, as will David Nalbandian and Miloslav Mecir. Mark Philippoussis, Nikolay Davydenko, Alex Corretja and Tim Henman will find a mention as well, while fans of an earlier generation will vouch for the excellence of Todd Martin and Cedric Pioline, or the “Flying Dutchman” of the 1970s, Tom Okker.

How about David Ferrer? Ah, that Spaniard? The perennial underdog? A warrior, but always an afterthought in this glorious era of tennis, dominated by four of the greatest tennis players to have graced the game and, of course, Stan Wawrinka – a man, who can play tennis for the heavens on his day.

“But he’s a pusher,” his critics usually moan. “He wins by pushing”. True, Ferrer is not the most naturally gifted player in this list, or even among his peers outside the Big Five. He does not hit the ball as cleanly as, say, a Tomas Berdych, nor does he have he flair of a Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

He might not even have a portion of the talent that a Grigor Dimitrov, Bernard Tomic or an Ernests Gulbis possess, or the passion – and penchant for trouble – of a Nick Kyrgios. And, of course, at 5ft 9ins, he is the shortest man in the top 55. Victor Estrella Burgos, the No 56, is 5ft 8ins.

Yet, he has been a permanent fixture in the ATP top 10 since October 2010, reaching as high as No 3 in the rankings in 2013. He has featured at the year-ending ATP Tour Finals for six consecutive years.

Among current players, Ferrer, 33, has played more matches (967) than anyone else, save 17-time grand slam champion Roger Federer and he is No 4 on the list of active players with most wins (657), behind Federer (1,059), Rafael Nadal (767) and Novak Djokovic (686).

In the all-time list, he is No 15, only five wins behind Michael Chang (662), and ahead of such illustrious names and grand slam champions as Arthur Ashe (634), Thomas Muster (621), Lleyton Hewitt (615), Andy Roddick (612), Mats Wilander (571) and Jim Courier (506).

Coverage of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship

Ferrer is also one of just two active players – the other being his Spanish compatriot Nadal – to have won 300-plus matches on both clay and hard courts. He has now notched up more than 40 wins in a year for 12 consecutive seasons, and that is a testimony to his staggering fitness.

To use a cliche, Ferrer never gives up, relying on his indefatigable stamina to grind down his more gifted opponents.

That stamina, of course, has been built through sheer hard work over the years and Ferrer only seems to be getting better with age. An Aries, he won his first, and as yet only, Masters 1000 title (Paris, 2012) after his 30th birthday and was 31 when he made his first major final at Roland Garros in 2013.

Ferrer’s daily fitness schedule includes a six-mile run, an intense cycling session and a hitting session with older, and heavier, wooden racquets to strengthen his arms. His coach Javier Piles (now former coach), of course, had to take some drastic measures to drill the importance of fitness and hard work into his reluctant ward.

“When David was younger and he didn’t want to work, I used to lock him up in a dark room of two square metres, where we would store the balls,” Piles told the Swiss newspaper Le Temps a couple of years ago. “I would give him a piece of bread and a bottle of water through the bars of the tiny window.”

Ferrer claims it only happened once, when he was 17. The Spaniard was not really enjoying the daily workouts and later decided to quit the academy. Thankfully, a week of loading bricks and working from sunrise to sunset made him realise tennis was a much better proposition and he returned with renewed vigour.

“I wanted to quit tennis, but I didn’t want to give up my nights out with my friends,” Ferrer told Le Temps. “My father made it clear that if I needed pocket money, I would have to work to earn it. So I got a job as a mason. After one week, I realised that tennis wasn’t that hard actually.”

The change of heart has paid off handsomely for Ferrer, and he has won more than US$28.3 million (Dh104m) in prize money since turning professional in 2000, which puts him at No 7 on the all-time list. He earned more than $3.6m in prize money last year alone, winning five titles to take his tally to 26, which is the most for any active player outside that elite Big Four club of Federer (88), Nadal (67), Djokovic (59) and Murray (35).

Ferrer has also played more finals (51) and semi-finals (90) than any other active player outside of the Big Four.

In February, he became the first player since Ivan Lendl in 1985 to win back-to-back titles on different surfaces (Rio Open on clay and the Mexican Open on hard court) in consecutive weeks.

That rare accomplishment, as it usually happens with Ferrer, was overshadowed by Federer’s triumph in Dubai and Nadal’s success in Buenos Aires. Still, his 26 titles in one of the toughest eras of the sport, is the most for any men’s player without a grand slam trophy.

By winning the Vienna Open in October, he surpassed Okker, Jose-Luis Clerc and Brian Gottfried, who finished with 25 titles.

What about the rest? Davydenko comes closest with 23 career titles, while Rios, the only ATP No 1 not to win a grand slam title, had 18. Mecir, Philippoussis, Henman and Nalbandian, all, finished their careers with 11 titles, while Corretja had 17, Martin eight and Pioline five.

In pictures: Five tennis players who are major title short of greatness

So, on the basis of his titles alone, Ferrer deserves to be anointed as the greatest among the major-less, but critics will point to the fact that 25 of his 26 titles have come at the 250 and 500 levels. He has only one Masters and one major final appearance, while the likes of Davydenko, Mecir, Martin or Pioline have done better than that.

Honestly, how many players outside the Big Four have won Masters or majors over the past decade? Yes, Wawrinka has two titles, but the Swiss has made only three appearances in a Masters final and won one. Ferrer has made seven Masters finals, which, again, is the most for any active player outside the Big Four.

So the numbers are loaded heavily in his favour and, if Ferrer were to hang up his boots without winning a major, he would be easily be at the top of the list of greats never to win a grand slam crown. If you do not take our word for it, then take Nadal’s.

“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 said.

Touche.

arizvi@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE

Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/TheNationalSport

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

CREW

Director: Rajesh A Krishnan

Starring: Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Kriti Sanon

Rating: 3.5/5

Du Football Champions

The fourth season of du Football Champions was launched at Gitex on Wednesday alongside the Middle East’s first sports-tech scouting platform.“du Talents”, which enables aspiring footballers to upload their profiles and highlights reels and communicate directly with coaches, is designed to extend the reach of the programme, which has already attracted more than 21,500 players in its first three years.

The Book of Collateral Damage

Sinan Antoon

(Yale University Press)

Founders: Abdulmajeed Alsukhan, Turki Bin Zarah and Abdulmohsen Albabtain.

Based: Riyadh

Offices: UAE, Vietnam and Germany

Founded: September, 2020

Number of employees: 70

Sector: FinTech, online payment solutions

Funding to date: $116m in two funding rounds  

Investors: Checkout.com, Impact46, Vision Ventures, Wealth Well, Seedra, Khwarizmi, Hala Ventures, Nama Ventures and family offices

HAJJAN

Director: Abu Bakr Shawky 


Starring: Omar Alatawi, Tulin Essam, Ibrahim Al-Hasawi 


Rating: 4/5

The specs

Engine: 2.3-litre 4cyl turbo
Power: 299hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 420Nm at 2,750rpm
Transmission: 10-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 12.4L/100km
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh157,395 (XLS); Dh199,395 (Limited)

Abu Dhabi traffic facts

Drivers in Abu Dhabi spend 10 per cent longer in congested conditions than they would on a free-flowing road

The highest volume of traffic on the roads is found between 7am and 8am on a Sunday.

Travelling before 7am on a Sunday could save up to four hours per year on a 30-minute commute.

The day was the least congestion in Abu Dhabi in 2019 was Tuesday, August 13.

The highest levels of traffic were found on Sunday, November 10.

Drivers in Abu Dhabi lost 41 hours spent in traffic jams in rush hour during 2019

 

Biog

Mr Kandhari is legally authorised to conduct marriages in the gurdwara

He has officiated weddings of Sikhs and people of different faiths from Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Russia, the US and Canada

Father of two sons, grandfather of six

Plays golf once a week

Enjoys trying new holiday destinations with his wife and family

Walks for an hour every morning

Completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Loyola College, Chennai, India

2019 is a milestone because he completes 50 years in business

 

A new relationship with the old country

Treaty of Friendship between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United Arab Emirates

The United kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United Arab Emirates; Considering that the United Arab Emirates has assumed full responsibility as a sovereign and independent State; Determined that the long-standing and traditional relations of close friendship and cooperation between their peoples shall continue; Desiring to give expression to this intention in the form of a Treaty Friendship; Have agreed as follows:

ARTICLE 1 The relations between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United Arab Emirates shall be governed by a spirit of close friendship. In recognition of this, the Contracting Parties, conscious of their common interest in the peace and stability of the region, shall: (a) consult together on matters of mutual concern in time of need; (b) settle all their disputes by peaceful means in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.

ARTICLE 2 The Contracting Parties shall encourage education, scientific and cultural cooperation between the two States in accordance with arrangements to be agreed. Such arrangements shall cover among other things: (a) the promotion of mutual understanding of their respective cultures, civilisations and languages, the promotion of contacts among professional bodies, universities and cultural institutions; (c) the encouragement of technical, scientific and cultural exchanges.

ARTICLE 3 The Contracting Parties shall maintain the close relationship already existing between them in the field of trade and commerce. Representatives of the Contracting Parties shall meet from time to time to consider means by which such relations can be further developed and strengthened, including the possibility of concluding treaties or agreements on matters of mutual concern.

ARTICLE 4 This Treaty shall enter into force on today’s date and shall remain in force for a period of ten years. Unless twelve months before the expiry of the said period of ten years either Contracting Party shall have given notice to the other of its intention to terminate the Treaty, this Treaty shall remain in force thereafter until the expiry of twelve months from the date on which notice of such intention is given.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF the undersigned have signed this Treaty.

DONE in duplicate at Dubai the second day of December 1971AD, corresponding to the fifteenth day of Shawwal 1391H, in the English and Arabic languages, both texts being equally authoritative.

Signed

Geoffrey Arthur Sheikh Zayed

The specs

Engine: 6-cylinder, 4.8-litre
Transmission: 5-speed automatic and manual
Power: 280 brake horsepower
Torque: 451Nm
Price: from Dh153,00
On sale: now

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: DarDoc
Based: Abu Dhabi
Founders: Samer Masri, Keswin Suresh
Sector: HealthTech
Total funding: $800,000
Investors: Flat6Labs, angel investors + Incubated by Hub71, Abu Dhabi's Department of Health
Number of employees: 10

PAST 10 BRITISH GRAND PRIX WINNERS

2016 - Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes-GP)
2015 - Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes-GP)
2014 - Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes-GP)
2013 - Nico Rosberg (Mercedes-GP)
2012 - Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing)
2011 - Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
2010 - Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing)
2009 - Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing)
2008 - Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2007 - Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)

Company profile

Company name: Twig Solutions (with trade name Twig)
Started: 2021
Founders: Chafic Idriss, Karam El Dik and Rayan Antonios
Based: UAE
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: bootstrapped (undisclosed)
Current number of staff: 13
Investment stage: pre-seed — closing the round as we speak
Investors: senior executives from the GCC financial services industry and global family offices

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

TWISTERS

Director:+Lee+Isaac+Chung

Starring:+Glen+Powell,+Daisy+Edgar-Jones,+Anthony+Ramos

Rating:+2.5/5

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

'My Son'

Director: Christian Carion

Starring: James McAvoy, Claire Foy, Tom Cullen, Gary Lewis

Rating: 2/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Dooda Solutions
Based: Lebanon
Founder: Nada Ghanem
Sector: AgriTech
Total funding: $300,000 in equity-free funding
Number of employees: 11


Abtal

Keep up with all the Middle East and North Africa athletes at the 2024 Paris Olympics

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      Abtal