News & Media

Home stars and sentimental favourites as Australia meets Spain

2 January 2019, by Vivienne Christie

Australia might be the home status on its side at Mastercard Hopman Cup – but Ash Barty and Matt Ebden won’t be the only sentimental favourites as they take on Spain in the host nation’s second round-robin tie.

While multiple major winner Garbine Muguruza is a natural crowd pleaser, compatriot David Ferrer is also loved for his work ethic and fighting spirit.

And the sentiment is especially strong as the Spanish veteran plays his last few events on tour.

Ferrer contested his last Grand Slam match at the 2018 US Open – forced to withdraw in his first round against Rafael Nadal with injury – and is playing just six events in 2019 before his planned retirement from the professional game.

The Spaniard became a popular figure in the rise to world No.3, helped by his runner-up performance (to countryman Nadal) at the 2013 French Open and the 27 singles titles he claimed in his career.

Muguruza is among those fans. When she was asked to describe her Spanish team-mate in one word ahead of their debut Mastercard Hopman Cup appearance, “humble” quickly came to mind.

And that certainly seemed true as the gently-spoken Ferrer, now 36, explained how he achieved such longevity on tour.

“I have been lucky to have important things,” he pointed out. “Trying to play consistent and to take care of myself, my body. I don’t know exactly but I am very proud of my career and will finish with fantastic memories.”

Asked to describe his legacy, Ferrer alluded to the challenges of competing in the same era as Roger Federer and countryman Nadal.

“I was a very consistent player. I played seven Masters Cups,” said Ferrer, who was runner-up on his debut at the elite season-ending event in 2007.

“But I never won a Grand Slam and with my career it was difficult to have a Grand Slam title. Probably in my career I tried to do my best.”

It’s a characteristically understated description of the tremendous work ethic and fighting spirit that saw Ferrer feature in three victories for Spain in Davis Cup.

“I have very good memories in Davis Cup of course. I liked to play Davis Cup a lot,” said the Spaniard, who is equally delighted to compete in Perth with Muguruza this week.

“They are different competitions in a team. I’m really happy to have the chance to play here,” he said.

Such gratitude translated to a typically fighting performance when Ferrer, now ranked No.125, pushed the fourth-ranked Alexander Zverev to three sets in the opening round.

He’ll look for another strong match against Ebden, who he defeated in their only other match in Tokyo in 2011.

Muguruza and Barty tied at 1-1, the Australian winning their first encounter on grass to reach the 2017 Nottingham final and the Spaniard triumphant on the hard courts of Toronto the same year.