Monday 21 January 2013

David Ferrer d. Nicolas Almagro (Australian Open Quarter-Final)

Nicolas Almagro walked onto the court today determined not be over-shadowed by the the two Spaniards ranked above him, Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer, as he took on one of them for a place in the semi-finals of Australian Open 2013. Almagro was trying to reach his first ever grand-slam semi-final.

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David Ferrer followed in the foot-steps of Almagro onto the court and determined to make it to the semi-finals. He had every reason to be confident given his head to head record versus Almagro. The pair had met 12 times before this meeting and all had gone in the favour of Ferrer. Just like Ferrer everyone believed it will be a cake-walk for Ferrer.

Almagro, went out firing all cylinders, serving well and backing his serve up with wonderful ground-strokes, both on the forehand and the back-hand. A lot of wonderful rallies ensued and in just 34 minutes Almagro was up a set, breaking Ferrer to take the first set. Almagro did not face a break point in the first set.

Almagro kept up the pressure by going for his shots and the second set followed the pattern and the score-line of the first set. It took Almagro 42 minutes to win the 2nd set, in which he again face no break points. 

The 3rd set went the same way with Almagro going for his shots and breaking Ferrer, until he had to serve out the match. Watching Almagro , no one could believe that Almagro was win-less in his 12 meetings against Ferrer. However, it soon began to unfold, as Almagro found himself serving for the match. He went down two break points but saved both to bring the game to deuce, but could not hang in there enough to serve it out. Nerves definitely had to play their part, the thoughts of first ever grand-slam semi-final and first ever win over David Ferrer must have haunted him, as he was broken to bring the set back to service. Ferrer held and broke Almagro to win the 3rd set.

The 4th set started in the same fashion just like the first 3 sets with Almagro going up a break. Almagro served for the match once again at 5-4, but this time again Ferrer stepped up and Almagro's nerves got the better of him and Ferrer broke Almagro to extend his time in the match, however Ferrer was in danger again as he was broken by Almagro, giving Almagro his 3rd chance to serve out the match. It was not Almagro's day, heavens were not in his favour, as he was yet again broken by Ferrer to force a 4th set tie-break, hence putting one of the last nails in the coffin that Almagro had built for himself. The final nail in the coffin was hit when Almagro hurt his groin during the 4th set tie-break, which was ultimately won by Ferrer 7-4.

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The fifth set was one way traffic with Ferrer winning the final set 6-2, breaking Almagro twice to clinch the final set and hence the match, making it 13 times in a row that Almagro failed to post a win against Ferrer. The final score being 4-6 4-6 7-5 7-6(4) 6-2 in Ferrer's favour.

It was one of the worst loses, or will it be more appropriate to call it the worst ever meltdown by a player of this caliber. Perhaps the recent meltdowns of Samantha Stosur in the second round and that of Li Na in the 4th round here last year come to mind. However, all the credit to David Ferrer for hanging in there by his finger nails and sensing the nerves of Almagro and taking his chances and coming out as a winner. 

For now on Ferrer lives on to fight for another day. Ferrer has taken another step towards winning his maiden slam, and will play the winner of Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych.

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