The second player we will examine in this series is none other than the Spanish stalwart, David Ferrer.
David Ferrer approaches each and every match with an acute obstinacy, an unwillingness to budge against the force of any obstacle or setback. His heart is that of a lion—one that looms large in the face of adversity and one that embraces the thrills and passions of the game.
Brad Gilbert likes to call Ferrer the little beast, and for good reason. Similar to his Spanish counterpart Rafael Nadal, Ferrer plays every point like it's his last. 1-1 in the first set or 6-6 in the fifth set, Ferrer is relentlessly fighting for each ball and ensuring himself that each ball struck will have purpose behind it.
Any tennis player is easily able genuinely to admire Ferrer's approach to tennis. He makes the most out of what he has in his 5'9" package, and this can be in large part attributed to his on-court mentality.
David Ferrer's speed is a vicious entity. His never-quit attitude is propped up and facilitated by his reactionary aptitude, guile and his overall lightness of foot around the court. While he is not an overbearing physical specimen and does not possess backbreaking power, Ferrer has enough speed to be a dominant player.
The Spaniard's speed puts him in an often uncharted capacity in this day and age of men's tennis. In an era where enhanced racket technology, revolutionary fitness and training regimens have produced an overall more powerful game, Ferrer is still one of the players out there content to let his opponents experience an elongated, drawn-out death.
His retrieval abilities are as good as it gets, and in coordination with his undeterred will, Ferrer is more than comfortable staying on the court from dusk to dawn.
If there is one category where I could definitively place Ferrer over Rafael Nadal, it would be in the fitness category.
This is not to disparage Nadal's fitness, but Ferrer's fitness is just that good. Ferrer is still grinding through the seemingly never-ending tennis season at the tender age of 30. And as a true testament to his longevity, Ferrer leads the ATP tour in wins in 2012. In addition, Ferrer has claimed a title on all three major surfaces in a season that is undoubtedly the most remarkable and impressive of his esteemed career.
Simply put, the guy can stick it out longer than any other player on tour.
He is prepared to experience the ultimate pain to obtain the ultimate reward no matter how long it takes him because he knows time is his ally and the ultimate enemy of his opponents. Without the supreme fitness Ferrer holds, the frictional turmoil, both mental and physical, might have proved to be the catalyst of his undoing.
This is where Ferrer really struggles against the top four guys. When it's time to lay the cards on the table, the candid, purely objective conclusion is that while Ferrer certainly has extremely viable offensive capabilities, they just aren't enough to beat the Big Four on a consistent enough basis.
While guys like Juan Martin Del Potro, Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga may not be as steady and dominating against the rest of the tour—as is to say they will lose matches they should win—they have the ability to outhit and take it to the Big Four.
Ferrer, on the other hand, rarely loses to opponents he should beat, but he does not have sufficient offensive tools to be a genuine threat to Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Murray or Nadal in majors.
Ferrer is not only the shortest player in the top 10, but he is also one of the shortest players on tour, period.
His height really forces him into playing a more defensively oriented game than he would otherwise and hinders his ability to flatten out the ball and generate as much as pace as he would if he were of a taller stature.
As a result of being relatively short, Ferrer is frequently, especially on clay, forced to take the ball on the rise to prevent the ball from making its way up to undesirable heights.
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