It's been a long time coming, but David Ferrer has finally played his way into a Grand Slam Final. After more than 750 career matches, David Ferrer will play in the French Open 2013 final.
He did it by making quick work of the French golden boy, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Tsonga, who had just beaten Roger Federer in straight sets, looked completely overmatched by Ferrer.
What really stood out in Ferrer's 6-1, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 victory was how quick he is on the court. He was getting to everything, while Tsonga looked a bit sluggish.
Ferrer took the first set without any hiccups, and set the tone for what would be a bad day for Tsonga. While Tsonga did get out to a 3-0 lead in the second set, breaking Ferrer's serve, Ferrer didn't panic, taking it to a tiebreaker. In the tiebreaker, Ferrer played much better than Tsonga, illuminating the difference between the two.
In the third set, Ferrer was down 15-40 in the last game, but he stormed back to win four straight points and the match.
It's too bad that Ferrer plays in a golden era of tennis. He is truly a terrific player, but because he's had to play in the same era as Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, he hasn't been able to rise to the top.
That's not an indictment on Ferrer, but rather a testament to the quality of tennis in the last decade.
Ferrer dominated Tsonga, just as he has the entire tournament. In fact, he's been nearly flawless:
Ferrer dominated Tsonga in all aspects. He was faster, played with more poise and with better fundamentals. For all of Tsonga's talent—as evidenced by his win over Roger Federer—he was unable to use his serve, or to force Ferrer to run baseline.
While Ferrer is quite fast, making him run the baseline could have worn him out. Tsonga never took advantage of that.
Instead, Ferrer returned shots with elite skill and precision, and made Tsonga tire relatively quickly. Ferrer's consistency won over Tsonga's superior talent.
Ferrer seems to be at a major disadvantage against Rafael Nadal, who he will face in the finals. Nadal is 19-4 against Ferrer. The last time Nadal lost on clay to Ferrer was in 2004.
Even if he is at a disadvantage, and even if he enters the match as a huge underdog, Ferrer will come in fresher than Nadal, who had to beat Djokovic in a marathon five-set thriller. If Ferrer can use the fresh legs to get a quick start on Nadal, then perhaps he has a chance.
But even if Ferrer loses, his French Open experience will not be for naught. He truly dominated on the way to the finals and made Tsonga look like a much lesser player. He has now catapulted himself into the discussion as one of the best players in the world.
In the end, Tsonga said it best: