In an earlier era, David Ferrer would have won a Roland Garros title. The second-ranked Spaniard shines on clay, and he played exceptionally crisp tennis during the first week by not dropping a set.
Ferrer must feel thrilled to land in the opposite half of the draw from Nadal, who routinely breaks his heart during this stage of the season. His fellow Spaniard has won their last 16 clay matches, including two three-setters this year, but Ferrer cannot meet him until the final.
He won't face world No. 1 Novak Djokovic until the final, either.
Adding to Ferrer's good news, upsets in his section have left him in a quarter with Tommy Robredo, Nicolas Almagro and Kevin Anderson. Almagro, the most dangerous man of those three, has never defeated Ferrer and choked away a huge lead against him at the Australian Open this year. Thus, a clear path to a second straight semifinal lies open.
The bad news for Ferrer is that he probably must solve Roger Federer for the first time when he reaches that stage. To reach his first major final, this Spanish counterpuncher must overcome his lack of self-belief against elite opponents like the Swiss superstar. It will not be easy, but the sight of a hard-working unsung hero trying to conquer his demons on a grand stage should be entertaining.