One fact that may have passed casual tennis fans by in 2012 is that world No. 5 David Ferrer is quietly having the best year of his career.
Federer finished the 2011 year at world No. 3 and was well behind Novak Djokovic. He has reclaimed his No. 1 spot this year, with the highlights being his seventh Wimbledon title and first Olympic singles medal.
Ferrer has never cracked the top three, nor the top four in the Big Four era; he finished the 2011 season at world No. 7.
However, this year he has dominated everyone except for the Big Four. Now—nearing the end of 2012—he has solidified a spot in the top five and is looking to break into that quartet.
By reaching the quarterfinals of all four Grand Slams this year, Ferrer showed a level of consistency and dominance the tennis world did not often see before the Big Four era. The legendary Pete Sampras only accomplished that same feat once in his 15 year career.
The rises of both Federer and Ferrer have come hand-in-hand this year.
By tying Federer for most wins, Ferrer is showing the consistency that he has never had before this year. He is also demonstrating the change that is happening in tennis culture—never before this era would it seem possible for two men in their 30s to top the wins list.
Ferrer may be 30 years old, but could now be heading towards the prime of his career.