Despite having an already glittering career, somehow David Ferrer, almost nearing 31 years of age, had not won a Masters 1000. Firmly set in between the ‘Big Four’ and ‘the rest of the top 10’ at #5, this was a trophy that was missing from his collection. As the tournament went on and seeds crashed out (or pulled out), he was very quickly the last man standing amongst the top 10. He was the only seeded player in the Bercy SFs and after defeating an inspired Llodra he was all set to clash in the final with the lightning bolt that hit the tournament out of nowhere, the 6’8” Pole Jerzy Janowicz.
21 year old Janowicz’s story seemed to be straight out of the movies. Ranked 69th in the world and not being able to afford to go to the Australian Open earlier this year, he came out of nowhere and started finishing off higher ranked, experienced players from the Bercy Qualies onward. By the time he stood across Ferrer at the net he had played 6 straight matches and left Kohlschreiber, Cilic, Murray, Tipsarevic and Simon strewn across his path of destruction.
All this drama culminated on November 4th, with the 5th seed and the qualifier facing off at the finals. Their playing styles are as different as chalk and cheese. Jerzy has his big serves, crosscourt forehands and delicate dropshots (that he loves a little too much at times). While Ferrer is the consummate baseline defender, the Wall, nothing gets through him and nothing goes beyond him. Despite an apparent height disadvantage, Ferrer can still get almost every ball back in play.
In the end it was big match experience and clean play from Ferrer combined with a lot of unforced errors from Janowicz, which allowed Ferrer to finally win his first ATP Masters 1000 trophy. While his fellow top 8 players practiced at the O2 arena, he left blood, sweat, toil and a lot of heart on that Bercy tennis court to finally win the last Masters 1000 trophy of the year. This was his 7th title this year, by far the best year of his career. It also put him ahead of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in terms of titles won this year, Roger has 6 and Novak has 5.
It was one of those results that made everyone happy. While Ferrer plugged the hole in his resume, Janowicz was now a runner-up at a Masters event, not bad for a player ranked 69 at the beginning of the tournament. He jumped 43 places to end the year ranked #26. The Pole who couldn’t afford go to the Australian Open this year will now be seeded there next year. And as the highest ranked Polish player on the ATP, I am sure some endorsements will come his way and he will be able to attend the Aussie grand slam. He has shown great skills and good athleticism throughout the tournament though he did get a bit nervous at times. But all this will go away as he gains more experience on the circuit. He has certainly shown he’s not a flash in the pan and I am sure we will see more of him in the near future.
Paris Bercy was the most unpredictable tournament we’ve had in a while and undoubtedly the two biggest stories (other than seeds leaving early) had to do with Ferrer’s unbeaten form indoors and the kid from Poland. Yet at the end of the day, the final result WAS predictable. Given that #1 ranked Roger (and #4 ranked Rafa) had withdrawn and the 2nd and 3rd ranked players had both crashed out, Ferrer righted the ship of the tennis world by capturing Bercy as the 5th ranked player. As the next best after the ‘Big 4’, he stepped up to maintain the dominance of the top players and not allow any major tectonic shifts in the landscape.
And so we take leave of Bercy and head to London for the ATP World Tour Finals. Jerzy can relax during the off-season while Ferrer has since joined his fellow top 8 and will need to shift gears immediately to get into high gear for the tournament. But I felt it was important to post about the last ATP tournament of the year that despite missing the top 4 still gave us many wonderful memories of surprise and excitement. Perhaps the Big 4 giving one tournament a miss is not such a bad thing for tennis.