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.
He noted that classic five-setter is his favorite moment of his professional tennis career, which began 14 years ago.
“Well, of course, when we won in Seville against Argentina, no? I won del Potro second match in fifth sets. You know, we was very emotion. I think my best emotions was Davis Cup,” he said.
In Cincinnati, Ferrer defeated compatriot Tommy Robredo: 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. He will play Julien Benneteau of France for a place in the final against either Canadian Milos Raonic, the only man this season to reach the quarterfinals or better at six Masters 1000 events, or Swiss Roger Federer, already a five-time champion in Ohio.
Among his 21 ATP World Tour singles titles, which also include two doubles trophies, Ferrer has one Masters 1000 title, from Paris in 2012.
And while the 6-4, 6-3 win over Polish qualifier Jerzy Janowicz in that final was thrilling, it is not the 32-year-old Spaniard’s top moment.
“You know, when I won Paris Bercy was my first title, Masters 1000. It was very excited, but it’s not compare about Davis Cup,” he said.
However, Ferrer said he would support holding the global team contest every other year, instead of annually.
“I need to recovery more than when I have 25 years,” he noted.
“Play every year is very difficult for the tennis players, no? The calendar is very close. It’s not easy for me,” he said. “It’s a mistake play every year.”
After falling to Germany in February, Spain will play its second consecutive World Group play-off tie away in Brazil in September. It will be the eighth time that the nations have faced off, but the first since 1999, when Gustavo Kuerten inspired Brazil to a 3-2 victory.
Ferrer reiterated that the split with his long-time coach, Javier Piles, at the start of this season was amicable. It was just time to try something new, he explained.
“Well, we decide because Javier and me, we were a lot of years, and, well, we think – both, not just me – it’s time to change. Nothing else, no?” he said.
“I appreciate a lot of Javi because he help me a lot. For him, I am tennis player because he help me a lot. But, well, it’s not easy, no, begin with one coach the career and finish with him.
“We practice, I think, 15 or 16 years together. You know, it was time to change.”
Overall, the 2013 French Open finalist said, the change has been relatively minor.
“I am OK. Well, really, I didn’t change a lot my team, no? I change only the coach, because Rafael (García) is my physio and also help me some tactics in tennis. Help me when I was 18 years, no?” he said.
“My fitness is the same. Manager is the same when I was 18 or 20 years old. So I only change one person.”