Wimbledon 2013: David Ferrer, the unknown Spaniard, quietly moving up in the world

World number 4 wins 6-3 3-6 7-6 7-5 in third round to set-up match with Alexandr Dolgopolov

Wimbledon

David Ferrer does not so much fly under the radar as take the Tube. The 31-year-old Spaniard will climb above Roger Federer into a career-high position at No 3 in the world rankings in nine days’ time – he might even be No 2 if he reaches the final – but could still walk through Wimbledon village unnoticed by even the keenest autograph hunter.

All that would change, of course, if Ferrer carries on winning here. On past form that is as unlikely as, say, Sergiy Stakhovsky beating Roger Federer or Steve Darcis knocking out Rafael Nadal. In his 10 previous visits to the All England Club, Ferrer has reached the quarter-finals just once, when he lost to Andy Murray last year.

The French Open runner-up, nevertheless, is through to the third round for the sixth year in succession after a hard-fought 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, 7-5 victory yesterday over his fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut. Ferrer, who now faces the world No 24, Alexandr Dolgopolov, was some way below his best, but believes he is improving with each match on grass.

Being a fellow countryman of the sport’s most charismatic player has contributed to Ferrer’s low profile. If he lacks Nadal’s flair, however, you can never underestimate Ferrer’s talent, indomitable spirit and extraordinary stamina.

The victory over Bautista Agut was typical of so many Ferrer performances. Although he lacks the big weapons so many of his rivals can call upon, nobody works harder for his points as he creates winning situations with his aggressive ball-striking from the back of the court, manoeuvring opponents out of their comfort zone. His game is best suited to clay, but nine of his 20 titles have been won on hard courts and he has even won a tournament on grass, in the Netherlands five years ago.

Bautista Agut is a good example of the great strength in depth of the men’s game. The 25-year-old world No 60 is playing in his first Wimbledon – he failed in three previous attempts to qualify – and has never gone beyond the second round of a Grand Slam tournament, but he has an impressive all-round game. Although most comfortable when grinding out points from the back of the court, he was not afraid to use subtle variations of pace and even tried serve-and-volley on occasions.

After two false starts because of the rain – play was even halted after the first point because the damp Court One surface was deemed to be dangerous – Ferrer broke immediately. The last two points of Bautista Agut’s first service game summed up Ferrer’s doggedness as the server was outrallied and forced into backhand errors. Bautista Agut broke back immediately but after another break Ferrer served out for the set after 43 minutes.

Bautista Agut took the second set with a single break of serve and twice came back from a break down to take the third set into a tie-break, which Ferrer won 7-4. The underdog hung on grimly in the fourth set but when he served at 5-5 and 30-40 he put a forehand in the net. A grateful Ferrer duly completed his victory in two hours and 58 minutes.

It was his 36th success on grass. The only Spaniards who have won more on the surface are Manuel Santana, Nadal, Feliciano Lopez and Andres Gimeno. Could Ferrer even become only the third Spaniard to win Wimbledon, following Santana and Nadal? That remains a long shot, but after this week’s remarkable events, who knows?

Suggested Topics
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk