by JAMES HENRY
CINCINNATI – David Ferrer has represented his country in the Davis Cup international team competition in 27 matches across 17 ties since 2006.
He won a whopping 23 of those rubbers, most notably defeating Juan Martín del Potro in front of a Spanish home crowd during the final against Argentina in 2011. It truly was an epic encounter, lasting 4 hours and 46 minutes.
The big-serving Argentine, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, found his form in the second set, grabbing it in a tie-breaker. Then, after losing his serve early in the third set, he won five games in a row.
But Ferrer would not give up. As the match continued, he got stronger, eventually earning the victory: 6-2, 6-7 (2), 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.
With two additional wins by teammate Rafael Nadal, Spain claimed its fifth Davis Cup title, the third in four wildly successful years.
“You know, play for your country is different,” Ferrer told reporters after reaching his first semifinal at the Western & Southern Open, a prestigious Masters 1000 tournament, in Cincinnati.
by JAMES HENRY
CINCINNATI – Every moment is special. And some, in particular, will be remembered forever.
Defeating five-time champion Roger Federer of Switzerland in the fourth round of last year’s U.S. Open: 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-4.
Before a partisan crowd, beating France’s Gaël Monfils in the third round of the 2013 French Open: 2-6, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 7-6 (3), 6-2.
Then, in another five-set stunner the next round in Paris, overcoming countryman Nicolás Almagro: 6-7 (5), 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
Spain’s Tommy Robredo said he never will forget those matches. Another now is etched in his memory – upsetting Novak Djokovic at the 2014 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati as the Serbian tried to complete the Career Golden Masters, winning all nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments.
Robredo ousted the World No. 1 and winner of seven Grand Slam singles titles in the third round: 7-6 (6), 7-5.
“I always say the same: When I finish my career and when I will be sitting at home and talking with friends, I will remember days like this,” the 32-year-old said.
“There is couple matches that will keep being in my memory for years,” he said. “I’m playing for that. I’m playing for enjoying these moments. Tennis career is very hard. You know, we are traveling. A lot of times, we’re alone on the plane, on the autos.
“Also, we are lucky to be inside a tennis court with 5,000 fans supporting us and enjoying what we do.
“When things like this happen is when you’ll feel more aware, no? That’s why I’m here, and I have to enjoy these matches as well as I can.”
by JAMES HENRY
CINCINNATI – A finalist last year, Serena Williams made a successful, but tense debut at the 2014 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
With a slight edge in two tie-breaks, she defeated Australia’s Samantha Stosur: 7-6 (7), 7-6 (7).
“It’s been really good to play such close matches and then come out on top even though I’m defeated and then down. To be able to actually win those are really good,” Williams said.
“Like usually I would be upset over today, but I think I did well and she did well,” she said. “I’m just happy to get through this match.”
by JAMES HENRY
CINCINNATI – No longer the ingénue of the WTA, former World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki is learning with age comes wisdom. And, more importantly, she is putting that knowledge to good use.
“I’m in a great place right now, and I feel like I have been working really hard. You know, this is the part of the season I really like. I love playing on grass. I love the U.S. Open Series,” she said after her first-round win at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
“It’s definitely a part of the season I play well in. It’s definitely a confidence boost. I won Istanbul and kind of went from there.”
The 24-year-old Dane defeated Magdaléna Rybáriková of Slovakia: 6-2, 6-3. She next will play China’s Zhang Shuai, who beat Great Britain's Heather Watson: 6-3, 2-6, 7-5.
“I felt good out there today. I felt like I played really well,” Wozniacki said. “I managed to kind of keep my head cool, and I felt like I was pressuring her back. You know, she had to run a lot. I felt like I was in charge of the points.”
She said her goal for the rest of the season is simple: Win.
by JAMES HENRY
CINCINNATI – It all started with a simple text message.
About a month before the Wimbledon Championships, American Jack Sock texted Canadian Vasek Pospisil to see if he would compete with him in doubles.
“I knew him a little bit, but not too well,” Sock said during the draw ceremony for this week’s Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. “I’m just very thankful that he decided to play.”
The duo advanced round after round after round, eventually reaching the final, looking over the net at Americans Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, the winners of a record 15 Grand Slam titles.
The young guns – Sock is 21, and Pospisil is 24 – upset the legendary twins, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (3), 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.
“We went through a bunch of good teams and then to be able to beat the best team of all time on Centre Court in the final was an unbelievable experience and I’ll cherish it forever,” Sock said.
I noticed during the presser that most of the questions were about when you were going to retire. Do those kinds of questions bother you?
No, not, not really. They are normal at my age and I don’t feel that they are overused because I begin later than everybody else so I am not like used up. (big smile)
What is the craziest thing you’ve ever heard about yourself in the press?
It was in 2006 and there was a story that I didn’t want to play Davis Cup because there was an issue with the Federation and the distribution of money. Every day it was harder because it was like, one idiot writing and then everyone else would copy that.
What is the last gift you received?
It was here the tournament and they gave me wine.
But you haven’t opened it yet, right?
No, not yet but soon. (another big smile)
What is the last gift you gave?
I usually give a lot of little gifts when I come home but I think the last gift was for my daughter – a hat and dress from Wimbledon.