Better on clay

I was able to beat Rafa (Nadal) a couple of times in 2007 but it doesn’t mean I have the edge over him. -- David Ferrer-AP I was able to beat Rafa (Nadal) a couple of times in 2007 but it doesn’t mean I have the edge over him. -- David Ferrer

As long as David Ferrer keeps his racquet-bashing to a minimum and focuses on just playing the game, he will be a fierce competitor, writes Ayon Sengupta.

David Ferrer came into prominence in 2007, clearly establishing himself as one of the game’s better players on clay. Amongst his feats for the year, the Spanish No. 2 claimed Valencia, made it to the quarterfinals in Monte Carlo and finished runner-up in Barcelona, where he took a set off Rafael Nadal.

Rome, however, was a different story. Ferrer lost his first round match to Radek Stepanek and the poor form continued into the Hamburg Masters, where he lost to compatriot Fernando Verdesco in the third round.

As long as Ferrer keeps his racquet-bashing to a minimum and focuses on just playing the game, he will be a fierce competitor.

Question: 2007 was a relatively good year for you, how do you plan to keep the momentum going for 2008?

Answer: I will continue to work hard, the same way I have done all these years.

Are you planning to bring in any changes to your game? Or may be change your approach to it?

I will be working on all aspects of my game as I must continue to improve. If you stay at the same level, all the other players get better and you fall behind.

What are your immediate goals for 2008?

Win as many matches as possible and do well at all major events. It is the Olympic year also and I want to represent my country in Beijing.

You had great success against Rafael Nadal last season. Where do you think you hold the edge over him?

Rafa is an exceptional player; he’s No. 2 in the world and has beaten the No. 1 player Roger Federer a few times. I was able to beat Rafa a couple of times in 2007 but it doesn’t mean I have the edge over him.

But against Roger Federer at the Masters Cup final you lost tamely coming from a purple patch. What do you think makes Federer different from the rest? Which part of his game do you think you should attack more to get a positive result against him?

Roger is the best player in the world and can vary his game a lot. I played a couple of close matches against him but in the Shanghai final he was really at the top of his game and I had no chance. I must play at my very best level against him if I want to beat him.

Do you think 2008 can be the season when we will see the end of Federer’s dominance?

He’s the best player and will probably be remembered as the best tennis player ever. I am not thinking about Federer’s dominance but just how I can improve.

Tell us a bit about year early years shifting from Javea to Barcelona and then again moving back to Javea?

I went to train in Barcelona in 1996 and returned to the Valencia region in 1999. It was a good experience for me to be training in Barcelona but I was happy to return home. At that time most of the best players in Spain were practising in Barcelona but now we all practise in different places.

You are an avid reader. What book are you reading right now? Is there any book that you think has left a lasting impression on you and you can read it over and over again?

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne is the book I have just finished and The Pillars of the Earth by Kevin Follett is the book that has impressed me the most. It is fascinating, well written and I recommend it to anyone.