Friday, January 28, 2011

No Accident

If I have learned one thing from this Australian Open, it is this: never, ever underestimate David Ferrer.

I have been guilty of doing this for a long time. He's sort of my anti-Kohlschreiber - I always expect Kohlschreiber to do better than he does, and I always expect Ferrer to do worse than he does. In fact, if you asked me before this tournament who I genuinely thought I was a better player, I might have even said Kohlschreiber. David Ferrer is the ultimate under-the-radar guy.

It's amazing how he's managed to stay under the radar when he's made multiple Slam semis. I knew this, and I still continually underestimated him. I didn't even notice he was in the tournament till he played Raonic in the first round, and even then I had a mental asterisk next to him that said 'bunny'.

'Oh, he will lose to Rafa easily!' thought I. Obviously this was not to be. Sure, Rafa was injured, but he was still moving, still fighting. It must be very easy to lose to a wounded warrior - to get so excited about them being on the ropes that you forget about the business of winning the match. And Rafa, while obviously hampered, wasn't quite on crutches yet.

Ferrer kept his head. He played smart tennis, and he won - deservedly so - in straights. There was a lot of attention on how humble Rafa was, refusing to talk about his injury and giving credit to his opponent. Sure, he was very humble - it was a great press conference. But he was also right. Ferrer won this match. Full credit.

But still, thought I, 'oh, he has no chance against Andy Murray! Muzz will hand his arse to him!'

And yes, Ferrer lost. But he went down swinging like a real champion. He played amazingly to get that first set, and if he had taken that set point in the second set, who knows what direction the match would have taken?

This has been a great tournament for Ferrer. But he didn't get to the semis by accident. And I - and everyone else - need to remember that Ferrer deserves all the glory he can get. No more under the radar. Let's stand up and applaud David Ferrer.

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