David Ferrer, the world No. 5, is in the form of his life, dominating his opponents from his side of the tennis court.
Is he about to overtake compatriot Rafael Nadal in the rankings?
Ferrer showed off his sensational form in the Davis Cup final, where he beat world No. 6 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in straight sets 6-2, 6-3, 7-5 to put Spain in with a chance by leveling the weekend results to 2-2.
Unfortunately for Spain they could not win the deciding rubber (Radek Stepanek took that from Nicolas Almagro).
But David Ferrer can be nothing but pleased with his own results—extending his Davis Cup singles record to an extraordinary 23-4.
On a fast hard court that was supposed to favor the Czech players, Ferrer stunned and left Berdych looking down the court wondering how the man known as the Little Beast could both outmaneuver and outplay him.
Ferrer had done the same to Radek Stepanek, now a Czech Republic national hero, two days before, winning 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
Is he about to stun Rafael Nadal and take over the No. 4 spot in the rankings, and leave Nadal looking at a rank of Spanish No. 2?
This could happen early in 2013 as only 290 points separate the two Spaniards.
South African Airways ATP Rankings
|1 Djokovic, Novak (SRB)||12,920|
|2 Federer, Roger (SUI)||10,265|
|3 Murray, Andy (GBR)||8,000|
|4 Nadal, Rafael (ESP)||6,795|
|5 Ferrer, David (ESP)||6,505 (via ATP.com)|
Nadal has been out with injuries since his shock loss to another Czech—little-known Lukas Rosol—in the 2nd round of Wimbledon. If Nadal doesn't come back in winning form he will fall further in the rankings and Ferrer looks almost certain to take his place.
Ferrer reached the No. 4 ranking in 2008, but he has long lived in the shadow of the 11-time Grand Slam champion fellow Spaniard.
Among the most modest of players, he customarily praises the achievements of Nadal and other players ranked above him.
Known for his clay court game, he won a title on every surface in 2012. This ability to adapt to all playing conditions will be one of the factors that may help him further his own achievements in 2013.
He won his first Masters 1000 title earlier this month in Paris, and a grand slam is now the milestone for him to play for.
Ferrer has built his game around being a ferocious returner, never giving up on a point, and never letting the last point affect his focus for the next.
At 5’9" he is one of the shortest players on tour, and at 30 years old, also one of the most senior. But neither of those things stand in his way.
What really does stands out is his energy. Despite chasing down every point, he remains a tireless competitor.
He has played six of the last seven weeks, and if the Spanish team captain had been allowed under the rules to play him in the last and final rubber, who knows, he might have taken the Davis Cup home to Spain.
Nadal is reported to be returning to practice this week. Fans will be overjoyed to see him back in the tournaments, as the draw loses some of its lustre when he is absent.
But will he return in his previous fighting form?
With four different players capturing a grand slam in 2012, 2013 is a year where anything can happen. Will it happen for David Ferrer?
If he keeps playing the way he’s been playing, he’s in with a chance.