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David Ferrer

The spoils of a war of attrition that lasted two minutes over three hours went, as we expected, to the number three seed David Ferrer - though it was anything but the smooth procession the Spaniard might have hoped for.

The scoreboard read 7-6(2) 5-7 6-0 6-3 in favour of Ferrer over Adrian Mannarino, but it failed to record the sapping nature of the afternoon against the younger Frenchman.

“It was tough to play in these conditions,” said Ferrer, “but it was the same for both players.”

Indeed the sight of thousands of spectators continually fanning themselves time and again was the backdrop and foundation of this match, Hisense Area's crowd melting in a match that never quite broke out of a stop-start rhythm throughout.

Mannarino, significantly behind the Spaniard at 71 in the world rankings, was out of the blocks at breakneck speed but the whippet fast Ferrer, fast approaching his 32nd birthday, remorselessly reined him in during the first set before a tie-break that was only ever heading one way and won 7-2 by Ferrer.

Equality resumed for much of the second set, a slight breeze now in the air allowing for more expansive play but the expected tie-break didn't materialise when at 5-6 down, Ferrer failed to cope with a couple of sublime French volleys to lose his serve to love, and the set 7-5.

“I had a bad moment at the end of the second set,” admitted Ferrer, “but the last two sets I played good.”

The 25-year-old journeyman Mannarino has a patchy record in the majors, a fourth round at Wimbledon last year his best effort to-date and just one victory at Melbourne Park, in 2011 against a teenage Ryan Harrison.

Ferrer will not have been unduly fazed by his opponent but try as he might to grind out a win, Mannarino wouldn’t quite go away and invariably raised his game as the bigger points came, a pedestrian and regular 160km serve rising to 196km late in the second set.

But Mannarino couldn’t maintain it for long and true to his nickname, Ferrer - ‘the Wall’, threw it all back and then again. His 1.75m of pure muscle screaming supreme fitness and tenacity as the third set went his way in the blink of an eye 6-0.

You need a big, big game to get past Ferrer and try as he might, Mannarino does not fall into this category.

An early fourth set break empowered the veteran Spaniard who is playing the best tennis of his career and seeking to better his two semifinals here in the past three years. Rafael Nadal may have a weightier game but it’s difficult to imagine a more consistent competitor. 

Mannarino will testify to this, red in the face and suffering noticeably from the heat in the fourth set, he was forever a notch behind Ferrer who simply played as he had all afternoon, if anything the errors even fewer, the fourth set going his way 6-3 and the match too.

It wasn’t an occasion to linger in the memory but for the very top players these early days are all about progressing unscathed. Ferrer may not be thrilled with his performance but he will be satisfied with the result.

Hisense Arena - Men's Singles - Round 2
D.Ferrer ESP (3)

Monday, 22 December 2014
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