David Ferrer proved in 2013 that he’s not going to get out of this game until someone ropes and throws him, then ties his legs with a string and drags him out of the arena. Thanks partly to the back troubles that curtailed Andy Murray’s season, Ferrer rose to his present, career-high ranking of No. 3 at an age (31) when many felt his grinder’s game had become unsustainable.
Ferrer proved them all wrong, yet that breakthrough win at a major never materialized. He won two events (Buenos Aires and Auckland) but was unable to add to his surprisingly thin resume at Masters 1000 events—never mind realize that elusive goal of winning a major. He fell short against Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros, in three sets.
In his best performance last year, Ferrer had a match point in the Miami Masters 1000 final against Murray. He stopped play mid-point to challenge a non-call—unsuccessfully. Thus Murray won the ninth Masters title of his career, and Ferrer was left frustrated once again.
Ad-In: If Ferrer can drink deeply from the fountain of youth, he could continue to do what he’s done best: Grind out the wins over players ranked below him, fire hopes for that long-awaited Grand Slam breakthrough with flashes of brilliance, and impress legions of fans with his guts and determination. That’s not bad work, if you can get it.
Ad-Out: Ferrer may have to drink so deeply from said fountain of youth that all that water sloshing around in his belly might slow him down. Common sense suggests that a man who will be 32 for most of next year simply won’t be able to sustain the focus, stamina, and determination that are required to grind out the wins—especially when he has a history of acquiescing to his betters.
As we approach the new year, we'll take a closer look at what's in store for the past year's top performers. To read more of our 2014 Season Previews, click here.