A year ago David Ferrer was embarrassed to be the No 4 player in the world.
But 12 months on as he prepares to win the Auckland ATP tennis tournament for a record-breaking fourth time in succession and fifth time overall, he's content to be the world's No 3.
Ferrer has never been one to talk himself up. The 31-year-old doesn't have an "I am the greatest"-type attitude but perhaps that's been his downfall in the past; he felt he wasn't worthy to be mentioned in the same breath as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
A year ago he seemed almost embarrassed to be ranked ahead of Nadal, often stating it was only because his Spanish compatriot had been injured so much.
This year he had only Nadal and Djokovic ahead of him, but the big difference about him this time is that he says he deserves to be where he is.
"The tennis is justice," he said.
"I know it's difficult to be top 10 or to be No 3 in the world. I am lucky because Andy Murray was injured for three or four months, but I had a very good year.
"I finished the year No 3 because I deserved it, I think I deserve to be No 3 in the world."
It's not just Ferrer's attitude that has changed, he's also given his coach for 15 years, Javier Piles, the boot recently.
Unlike the other top players who've also changed coaches, Ferrer didn't go with a multiple Grand Slam winner as his replacement, as Djokovic did with Boris Becker and Federer with Stefan Edberg.
"Now I am with Jose Altur," Ferrer said. "I know him, he's travelled with me in some tournaments because I practised in his school with Javier.
"The team is the same, I only changed the coach. I don't have to change a lot of my tennis, only try to improve little things. . . "
While there are contributing factors in Ferrer making it to No 3 in the world, like Murray's back injury and Federer's career decline, Ferrer has also stepped up.
He made it to the final of the French Open, the semifinals at the Australian Open and the quarters at the other two Grand Slams as well as getting to the finals at the Paris and Miami ATP Masters tournaments.
"I don't know what will happen this year, but I will try my best and fight in every match."
Meanwhile, there was disappointing news about the Open yesterday with tournament director Karl Budge announcing that Gael Monfils has pulled out.
The Frenchman made it to the final in Doha at the weekend and has cited fatigue as his reason not to come to Auckland.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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