Ferrer gets chance to step up in Melbourne

JOHN SALVADO
Last updated 17:20 23/01/2013
David Ferrer
Getty Images
DAVID FERRER: "Novak, he's the No 1 in the world. He's the favourite to win the Australian Open. I will have to play better (than against Almagro) to win tomorrow, for sure."

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The first time David Ferrer and Novak Djokovic met at a major was back in the semi-finals at the 2007 US Open.

It was uncharted territory for Ferrer, while Djokovic - then 20 - had only recently started to really make his mark, having also reached the last four earlier in the year at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

Djokovic was able to get the job done that day at Flushing Meadows, dropping only 11 games in the process.

And although he could not get past Roger Federer in the final, it would only be another four months before the current world No 1 was winning at Melbourne Park for the first of his five slams.

It was not so much that Ferrer's career stalled in the succeeding years as that the Fab Four of Djokovic, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray made it almost impossible for him to take the final step.

The 30-year-old admitted as much last week, noting he was effectively only seeded fourth here by default because of the long-term injury to countryman Nadal.

Be that as it may, the Spanish ball machine is through to the Open semi-finals very much on merit, having come back from two sets down to beat another member of the Spanish armada, Nicolas Almagro, in the quarters.

And his win-loss record of 5-9 against defending champion Djokovic is none too shabby, although it slips to a far less convincing 0-4 in the slams, with the Djoker dropping only one set in those four matches.

"Novak, he's the No 1 in the world," said Ferrer.

"He's the favourite to win the Australian Open.

"I will have to play better (than against Almagro) to win tomorrow, for sure."

That's a given.

But red-hot favourite Djokovic knows he will also need to do plenty of things right if he is to deny Ferrer a berth in his maiden grand slam final.

"I need to be aggressive on the court, that's for sure," said Djokovic, a man to whom aggression comes naturally.

"I need to step in and try to be in control of the match.

"Otherwise he makes his own rhythm - he makes his own pace on the court.

"That's where he's very dangerous, because he's a great competitor.

"He's somebody that has a lot of respect from all the players, because he plays so many tournaments and works very, very hard."

 

THE CRUCIAL NUMBERS FOR NOVAK DJOKOVIC'S AUSTRALIAN OPEN SEMI-FINAL WITH DAVID FERRER (PREFIX DENOTES SEEDING):

1-NOVAK DJOKOVIC (SER) leads 4-DAVID FERRER (ESP) 9-5

2012 US Open, hard, SF, Djokovic 2-6 6-1 6-4 6-2
2012 Miami, hard, QF, Djokovic, 6-2 7-6
2012 Australian Open, hard, QF, Djokovic 6-4 7-6 6-1|
2011 World Tour Finals, hard, RR, Ferrer 6-3 6-1
2011 Madrid Masters, clay, QF, Djokovic 6-4 4-6 6-3
2010 Beijing, hard, F, Djokovic, 6-2 6-4
2009 Davis Cup, clay, WG 1R, Ferrer 6-3 6-3 7-6
2009 Dubai, hard, F, Djokovic 7-5 6-3
2008 Australian Open, hard, QF, Djokovic 6-0 6-3 7-5
2007 Masters Cup, hard, RR, Ferrer 6-4 6-4
2007 US Open, hard, SF, Djokovic 6-4 6-4 6-3
2007 Monte Carlo Masters, clay, R16, Ferrer 7-5 6-4
2007 Indian Wells Masters, hard, QF, Djokovic 6-3 6-4
2004 Bucharest, clay, R16, Ferrer 4-6 6-4 6-4

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NOVAK DJOKOVIC (SER)

Age: 25
Ranking: 1
Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Career prize money: $US45,686,497 ($A43.46 million)
Career titles: 34
Grand slam titles: 5 (Australian Open 2008, 2011, 2012, Wimbledon 2011, US Open 2011)
Australian Open win-loss record: 37-5
Best Australian Open performances: winner 2008, 2011, 2012

DAVID FERRER (ESP)

Age: 30
Ranking: 5
Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Career prize money: $US17,178,869 ($A16.34 million)
Career titles: 19
Grand slam titles: 0
Australian Open win-loss record: 28-10
Best Australian Open performance: semi-finalist 2011, 2013 

- AAP

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