And perhaps even more shocking, he could hold onto a lofty ranking another year.
2013 saw Ferrer break through to the championship round at a Grand Slam for the first time as he made the finals of the French Open before falling to countryman Rafael Nadal. Over the course of the year, Ferrer made nine finals overall and won two titles. It was the third year in a row that the veteran made six or more final-round appearances.
Consistency has been the Spaniard's trademark, both in his game and his results. Like many of his peers, he plays an aggressive counterpunching style, relying on physicality to set himself up to hit winners from the back of the court. And results-wise, he's in the later rounds of the majority of the tournaments in which he competes.
Ferrer has thrived in tournaments where he's the first or second seed. However, when he's in the mix with Nadal, Murray, Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer, he's often left out of first place: Overall, he has a 15-53 record against those four, who have dominated the men's game for the past few years.
Luckily for Ferrer, those aren't the only top-10 players he has to contend with, as the styles of the rest of his peers near the top play right into his hands.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin del Potro—big ball-strikers who have all made Slam finals, and in del Potro's case, won a major—often find themselves in dogfights with a player they tower over physically. Ferrer finds a way to hold them off at the end, which enables him to build up his ranking.
The 2014 season is just getting underway, and Ferrer is the second seed at the tournament in Doha, Qatar, behind Nadal and ahead of Murray and Berdych. If the seeds hold to form, Ferrer would play a fellow member of the top 10, Richard Gasquet, in the quarters and Murray in the semis.
It's definitely a tough draw the first tournament of the new year, but if Ferrer can make a good start at the ATP 250 stop, it could be a solid stepping stone to another consistent season with the end result being another spot near the top of the rankings.
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