There is almost always a lull in the air before a certain denouement is trespassed upon. A variety of emotions take hold of the scores of fans as they silently stand witness to a pensive curtain call.
A forewarning had already been issued in the early months of this year. Yet somehow, the acute anxiety of bidding farewell to one of tennis' most loved and lauded players was overwhelming.
As the 37-year-old Spaniard David Ferrer appeared for his swansong on the clay-dusted courts at the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open, it was hard to remain dry-eyed.
Tennis has had several legends who, like Midas, converted everything they touched into golden wins and glory. While the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic basked in the perpetual limelight, Ferrer remained content being confined to the shadows throughout his two-decade career.
Often touted as someone possessing the right blend of skill and heart required to scale multiple Grand Slam summits, Ferrer never quite rose to those heights even though he always gave his best.
However, the Spaniard has no regrets as he hangs up his racquet post his second-round loss to the 22-year-old Alexander Zverev. Coming into Madrid as the defending champion, Zverev rushed the exit of an emotional Ferrer all too early in the tournament.
Having spent a marvelous few years in the top 10 of the ATP rankings and regarded with immense respect by all his fellow players, Ferrer had tremendous work ethic in a sport dictated by men with mind-bogglingly superhuman qualities. Ferrer complemented his court craft with admirable humility and a likable personality, which made him a legend in the eyes of many.
On that note, here is a look at 8 landmark achievements that Ferrer registered in his career:
#1 Third in the all-time list for highest number of title wins by a Spanish player
In his career spanning two decades, Ferrer won 27 ATP titles. That puts him at third place on the long list of Spanish players who have made it big in the sport, behind Manuel Orantes and Rafael Nadal.
#2 12th on the all-time match wins list
The man from Alicante boasts of 734 career match wins and is placed at the 12th position in a list that is led by Jimmy Connors with 1256 wins. Swiss legend Roger Federer comes second on the list with 1200 wins.
#3 Permanent member of the ATP top 10 for 7 years
The year 2010 was a defining year for the Spaniard as it witnessed his first final appearance at a Masters tournament. That year was also special as it started a run of seven consecutive years for Ferrer in the top 10; his ranking next fell below 10 only in 2016.
#4 Won 7 titles in the year 2012
2012 was the most prolific year for Ferrer as he won seven titles (Auckland, Buenos Aires, Acapulco, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Bastad, Valencia and the ATP Masters 1000 in Paris).
#5 Peaking at World No. 3 in the year 2013
Ferrer made it to his first ever Grand Slam final and two other Masters Finals in 2013. After all his tireless efforts, Ferrer came close to clinching a Grand Slam win at the French Open but the King of Clay Nadal was his opponent at the other side of the net and he ensured that Ferrer did not have the last laugh. However, Ferrer did go on to become the World Number 3 that year owing to his consistently good performances.
#6 Won the Davis Cup thrice
Ferrer was a part of the Spanish team that tasted victory thrice in the Davis Cup. Spain won the Davis Cup two years on the trot in 2008-2009 and then again in 2011. Ferrer contributed substantially in all three victories.
#7 Finished as the runner-up at the ATP World Tour Finals in 2007
At the year-ending championships of 2007 held on the hard courts of Shanghai, Ferrer found himself in the final of the tournament. Thwarting his flight to success was Roger Federer, who defeated Ferrer in three sets to clinch the title.
#8 Finished fourth in doubles at the 2012 London Olympics
Partnering with Felicano Lopez, Ferrer made it to the men's doubles semifinals at the 2012 London Olympics. The Spanish duo lost to the French pair of Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet in the bronze medal match.