Heineken Open top seed David Ferrer says it will be a "dream" to win the tournament again this year and equal the feat of Australian great Roy Emerson.
Ferrer has won this Auckland tournament three times, including the past two years.
Success again will mean only he and Emerson would have won the tournament for three successive years and four times overall.
"Of course, if I win here, it is going to be a dream for me," said Ferrer, who will play his first match at the open tomorrow against either Benoit Paire or Yen-Hsun Lu.
"I am very happy to come back to Auckland again and it's nice to see the same people here as other years."
Emerson, who won in Auckland in 1960, 1965, 1966 and 1967, triumphed in 12 grand slams over his career, while Ferrer is still to make it to a final at one of the big four tournaments.
However, Ferrer will achieve something special in a few weeks when he overtakes Rafael Nadal in the world rankings and moves to No 4.
For any player, the thought of breaking the stranglehold Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Nadal have had on the top four for so long seemed inconceivable.
But because of Nadal's long-term injuries and illness, which have sidelined him since Wimbledon last June and Ferrer's great 2012 where he won seven titles, the two Spaniards will soon swap places in the rankings.
However, Ferrer said he would not gain any satisfaction from a top-four spot because of the circumstances around it. "I don't care, because Rafa has been injured for a long time and I was at No 4 in 2008," Ferrer said.
"So I don't have special motivation to be at No 4, I have motivation to improve my game and to be in the top 10 all year."
Ferrer played in Doha last week, a break from the norm as he usually just plays in Auckland before the Australian Open, but has said that as he approached the twilight of his career he wanted to change things up.
"The last time I played there was in 2005, a long time ago," he said.
"I am 30 years old and I like to sometimes play other tournaments but, of course, if I have the chance to come back to Auckland, I will do it every year because I like this tournament a lot, it's very special."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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