For Indian tennis fans, taking stock of Saketh Myneni’s efforts in the first round of the US Open meant a lot more than losing the chance to play against Novak Djokovic in the next round. It also extended to the raising of Indian hopes for its then upcoming World Group play-off tie against Spain.
Eventually, when the draw was announced and it emerged that he would be playing David Ferrer in the second singles rubber, with his struggling form, Ferrer had started to seem like the weak link the Indians – specifically Myneni – could take advantage of.
However, while Feliciano Lopez was pushed to four sets by the seemingly indefatigable Ramkumar Ramanathan, it took just one hour 28 minutes for the world no. 13 to end Myneni’s challenge with a routine 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 win.
The win then, was in many ways, the continuation of a pattern that Ferrer’s career – and he has a player – has come to be. Though he’s been seen as an example of longevity and consistency, he’s also been long second guessed and underestimated.
This year, this aspect has been underscored further thanks to his inconsistent season that saw him drop out of the top-10. His best results this year have been reaching the semi-finals in four events – Auckland, Buenos Aires, Geneva and Bastad that have been scattered across the peppering of premature exits in the Slams and the Masters.
When we had a chance to catch up with Ferrer briefly in the middle of the chaos at the venue and enquired about the season he’s had, the 2013 French Open finalist quipped, “Because, it’s very difficult playing very good every year.
I’m 34-years-old but I could improve my game to have better ranking.” And he does need to improve in the remaining portion of the season, with quite a few ranking points on the line. When asked about his schedule post the play-off tie, Ferrer mentioned, “I will go home, rest some days and go to Asia, to China.
I will be playing in Beijing.” Last year, Ferrer had won two titles – in the now defunct Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur and in Vienna – and had reached the semi-finals in Beijing, where he’d lost to Andy Murray.
This year, equalling that result, or even bettering it, is imperative for Ferrer, who at this point is ranked 21st in the Race to London. But if anyone can stand up to the occasion and deliver a subtly enforcing response, it’s Ferrer.
Like he did against Myneni to give Spain a 2-0 lead, and put it closer to taking its place in the World Group. Also Read Mystery Shrouds Rafa's Absence in First Singles Rubber