Jim Courier was trying to be creative. “For a man with such a little voice, you are like a huge animal on the court,” he said as David Ferrer scurried back to the locker-room. He had just spent more than two hours in the heat getting the better of Jeremy Chardy 6-2 7-6 6-2 and he did not want to spend another second out there in the sun. Adios, Jim. Interview over.
You could see what Courier was getting at, though. If you passed Ferrer in the street, you wouldn’t really notice him. Well, you might if you happen to be a girl but let us move on. He is pleasant, polite, well turned out and has a slightly shy smile. It would never occur to you that he is third best player on the planet, one of the fittest men on the tour and one of the most dogged, determined fighters out there. But that is what he is.
With the ability to run until dawn in pursuit of victory and with a mentality that simply refuses to accept defeat, Ferrer is a bugger to beat. His win over Chardy put him through to the fourth round of a major championship for the 15th time in a row, a four-year run of consistent success that has carried him up the rankings and positioned him to challenge the big boys at the top.
“I am very proud for that,” he said quietly. “I play very well and I try to be consistent for the last four or five years.”
He was trying to be consistent against Chardy, too, and making a pretty good first of it for a set. That was when the Frenchman decided to up the ante. He started to mix it up a little, vary the pace and attack whenever he could. For most of the 64-minute second set it worked, too, as Chardy found himself serving for the set and with three set points on his racket strings. And then it all went pear-shaped.
Forced into a tiebreak, he took the early lead and had his chances to make a fight of it but Ferrer just would not go away. That is what Ferrer does: no matter what the conditions, no matter who the opponent, Ferrer will not give up. Not even when the temperature moves into the 40s.
“It was a miracle when I won the second set,” Ferrer said. “I was so many set balls down. These conditions are tough for me. I am a fitness player; I need to run for every point and so it’s not easy to play tennis in these conditions. But I am a fighter.”
He is that all right and having managed to wrestle that second set from Chardy’s grasp, he relaxed a little and played with more freedom while the Frenchman realised that he was on a hiding to nothing. At last it was business as usual for the world No.3 and he was off to the fourth round and a meeting with Florian Mayer.