Thursday, September 21, 2023

David Ferrer: “The Salad Bowl is our goal, but not an obsession”

David Ferrer (Xàbia, April 2, 1982), He debuts this Wednesday as captain of the Spanish team of the Davis cup in Valencia, the best possible scenario for him. The man from Alicante has continued to be linked to tennis since he retired in May 2019. He is now starting a new stage from home with the guarantee of that warrior character that led him to lift three Ensaladeras on the court (2008, 2009 and 2011) with one of the most impressive balances that a Spanish tennis player can show in the Davis Cup, 28 wins and five losses over 20 ties. Feliciano López, current director of the competition and winner of five titles, fully trusts ‘Ferru’: “Spain cannot have a better captain. He is the best Davis Cup player I have ever seen. “The record he has of won games is brutal.”

It’s debut day. For you, home premiere. Do you have La Fonteta as an extra weapon in search of the Malaga Finals?

Yes, I’m counting on it, on the Valencia fans… And so much! We already experienced it last year. I hope this week will be like that again, even more so with such difficult qualifiers ahead as those in the Czech Republic and Serbia with Novak Djokovic. I hope so, I wish for it and, sincerely, I trust that the public will give us the support we are going to need. It is always better to play at home with a crowd with this passion.

Whims of fate, he returns to Valencia, the place where he lived his last chapter as a Davis player: that victory against the German Kohlschreiber in five sets and five hours that gave Spain a pass to the semifinals of the 2018 edition in the Plaza of bulls.

I keep that day with great affection, not for the moment itself, because a final or a Davis title is something more charismatic, but because it was my last match in this very important competition representing your country. After all, I was already at the stage in which my tennis level was going down in the ranking. The fact of playing at home, that it was the decisive match, how it was… to the limit. Without a doubt, I remember it in a special way. My moment of vindication, of feeling again what I had felt before when I was at the top, a feeling that I will always have well kept within me.

“I hold the match against Kohlschreiber in the Bullring with great affection. It was my moment of vindication, to feel again what I had felt before when I was at the top”

Four years after retiring, David Ferrer is still very directly involved with tennis. The academy in Xàbia, director of Godó, former director of Davis and now Spanish captain… Is it a very different life?

Changes a lot. It is a totally different stage. You close one and start completely different ones. Neither better nor worse. As a tennis player I enjoyed it a lot, I experienced very intense sensations, that adrenaline of competing and winning is very difficult to have again. However, you experience other things, you have inner peace, time with your family, being at home, situations that I really like. Of course, I love continuing to be linked to tennis, being inside… But if you ask me if I miss it or if I would come back… I wouldn’t, everything has its time. That stage is closed and I am happy and I have a great time with everything I do now.

Among your new tasks is, for example, dreaming of the Salad Bowl as captain of Spain in the Davis? As a player he won three.

That is the intention, the Salad Bowl, the objective… Dream it? I would tell you that I don’t take it as an obsession. As captain, the first thing I must do is instruct the players and help them be better on the court. And then, work to create a unity in the team that is noticeable in the competition and allows us to increase our chances of winning the title. To achieve that goal there has to be good work behind it, of course I want and wish to be able to lift again.

Don’t you think that, without Rafa Nadal or Carlos Alcaraz, it is setting the bar too high for the current players?

(Thinks) The truth is that I think we have a very good team. Let’s see, it is evident that talking about being champions when we have not yet qualified for the Final Eight at the end of November is a bit premature. But I trust this team a lot. There is a variety of players to stand up to any team and, without a doubt, be able to be among the best in the Davis Cup.

“We have a very good team, there are players to compete for the Finals and stand up to anyone”

How is Bautista, ready to play? Have you already decided who will play the singles against the Czechs?

According to what he said, ‘Rober’ hopes to help the team soon. Right now I can’t say who will play, but yes, I already have it clear.

Do you still believe that it is possible for Rafa Nadal to join the team for the title Finals on November 21? In June there was talk of a five-month recovery period.

We haven’t qualified for the final yet and that’s what I want first of all. Then, try to talk to Rafa and find out how she is doing.

Don’t you rule it out?

As of today, no, but if we don’t get into the Final this week it won’t matter.

“Today I don’t rule out Nadal for the Finals, but it won’t matter if we don’t qualify. That’s the first thing, if we do, then I’ll talk to him to see how he’s doing.”

Is Novak Djokovic’s Serbia the big favorite in the group?

On paper, yes, although other things can happen later. In this format the double counts a lot. Last year Australia reached the Final with a very good doubles performance. A great player no longer conditions as much as before. The format is a bit unfair.

Because? What would you change?

More than the calendar, I would give the format a twist to make it more attractive. For example, playing on weekends because during the week people work.


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