David Ferrer recently waxed lyrical about compatriot Rafael Nadal's claycourt prowess, calling the Mallorcan the "clear favorite" for every match he plays on the surface. Ferrer also expressed hope that Nadal and his older compatriot Feliciano Lopez continue playing for as long as possible.
Rafael Nadal is currently competing in the Barcelona Open, where he is an 11-time champion. David Ferrer, meanwhile, is a former four-time finalist at the event (losing to Nadal each time), and he currently serves as its tournament director.
During a recent interview with Radio Marca, Ferrer asserted that if Rafael Nadal is fit, he is still the single most dominant force on clay. According to Ferrer, Nadal's defeat to Rublev at Monte Carlo was down to the fact that the season's clay swing had only just started.
"Rafa played two very good games but it is true that Rublev surprised him (in Monte Carlo)," Ferrer said. "In the end, they just started the clay tour and for me, Rafa is the clear favorite on clay by game...If he doesn't have a major injury, he will always be the favorite. I would like to see him play forever."
While Rafael Nadal will turn 35 this June, Feliciano Lopez is almost 40, and many believe his days on the tour numbered. However, David Ferrer is holding out hope that retirement is still a very distant concept for both of them.
"If he cannot retire in Madrid I would love for him to retire in Barcelona, although I would like that both he and Rafa Nadal will never retire," Ferrer said.
For us, it is a privilege that Rafael Nadal comes to the Barcelona Open: David Ferrer
The Barcelona Open has been a key part of Rafael Nadal's season since 2003. He could only make it as far as the second round in his debut appearance, but has claimed a whopping 11 titles at the venue in the years since.
The 34-year-old also has a court named after him at the event, underscoring how revered he is in the region.
David Ferrer acknowledged that when asked to quantify Rafael Nadal's importance at the Barcelona Open. The former World No. 3 pointed out how Nadal is an ideal ambassador for the event, given his admirable personal traits.
"Rafa gives us preference, and for us, it is a privilege that such a special player comes here," David Ferrer said. "We are very lucky. It's a matter of education. Rafa's family has made him understand many things. His education, respect, gratitude...The tournament is elevated with him. He is a special figure in tennis."