David Ferrer has ended his 19-year-long career, following a loss to Alexander Zverev last night in Madrid. Having played throughout arguably the sport’s toughest-ever era, the Spaniard has no regrets and affirms that Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal made him a better player; “I am very happy with everything I did - maybe without them I would never be number 3 in the world.”
According to the ATP, Ferrer “holds the distinction of winning the most matches on the ATP Tour without having won a Grand Slam tournament.” Born in Alicante and residing up the coast in Valencia, it is only natural that he capped off his career with a final farewell on home soil first in Barcelona then in Madrid. We caught up with “Ferru” in Spain just before his departure from the sport he loves so much.
How would you like to be remembered as a player?
I’m a fighter - always trying to do my best. I fight in every match until the last point.
How do you feel as your last few matches approach?
I am emotional, but I am still in competition, so I don’t want to think about it too much yet.
Do you have second thoughts about retiring?
No, I don’t think about it too much anymore. I’m content, I have more time with my wife and son. If I think about it too much, it’ll burn me out mentally, so I try not to do it. I have great memories but it is very clear in my mind that this will be the last time I step out on to centre court as a professional tennis player. The decision has been made, I have no regrets and I will go on to be a tennis fan because I love the sport. But I won’t necessarily miss being there (on court) and this stage of my life is coming to an end.
Are there any young players that stand out for you?
There are many! I don’t always like to say names, because it adds extra pressure. Having said that, [current Tennis Europe 16 & Under #1] Carlos Alcaraz is a player with plenty of potential, as well as [former European Junior Champion] Alejandro Davidovich and [former Junior Masters winner] Nicola Kuhn. In Spain there has always been a great amount of tennis talent, but obviously there won’t be another Rafa Nadal because he is a one-of-a-kind in tennis history. This is something that everyone - fans, journalists, everyone - must take into account and enjoy while it lasts. Later, those who come up shouldn’t be compared to Nadal.
Do you have any advice for the juniors playing in 12&U, 14&U and 16&U about their intentions when it comes to tennis as well as their future tennis careers?
Each player is an individual and each mindset is different - not everyone is going to be the same. If they want to become professionals, first and foremost they have to enjoy every moment. They shouldn’t think too much about where and when they are going to “make it”. They should instead focus on experiencing each stage of the journey and know that losses are a part of this sport.
Finally, what was your transition from juniors to professional tennis like, and do you have any tips for those trying to transition?
Wow! (smiles) I don’t know, because it was a different time. When I was a junior, I didn’t play too many tournaments. I also played futures as well as other events that no longer exist. I really don’t know what I can tell them other than they should try to do their best, to enjoy the moment and to be consistent.
FERRER BY NUMBERS:
Highest ranking: 3
Number of Davis Cup wins: 3
Career titles: 27
Biggest win: Paris Masters 1000
Best Grand Slam result: French Open 2013 finalist
Tennis Europe Junior Tour: Boys 16&U Summer Cups champion, 16&U year-end rank #11, 1998.
Above: from the archives: Ferrer and Summer Cups team-mate Tommy Robredo went on to win the Davis Cup together, a road that began on the Tennis Europe Junior Tour.