Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Tennis: Iron Man Ferrer back in semis

David Ferrer serves at the ASB Classic. Photo / Getty
David Ferrer serves at the ASB Classic. Photo / Getty

Auckland tennis fans will get another chance to see the man known as the "Iron Man" of tennis tomorrow.

David Ferrer - who first came to Auckland 13 years ago - is back out on court, appearing in the semifinals for the seventh time.

In Spanish Ferrer translates as Blacksmith or Ironworker, but his nickname refers more to his endurance, toughness and legendary mental strength.

The years have gone by, but not much seems to change. The 33-year-old Ferrer remains one of the fittest and fastest players on tour and also has a remarkable resilience, recognised as one of the hardest men players to beat.

Ferrer has 26 career titles (four in Auckland), five Grand Slam semifinal appearances (one final) and has been as high as No 3 in the world. And all of those achievements have come without any real weapons; the 1.75m Ferrer doesn't have a huge serve, nor a large reach or excessive power from the baseline.

But he has a will to win and focus that few can match, perhaps only compatriot Rafa Nadal.

"I've had to develop this," said Ferrer of his mental strength. "It's my game. It's very important for me to be focussed with every point. I try to play with my forehand but the most important [thing] is my concentration. I'm trying to be focussed point by point."

Ferrer demonstrated his capabilities again today against Lukas Rosol. The world No54 is a dangerous player, who knocked Nadal out of Wimbledon in 2012 and has every shot in the book. He started well - surprising Ferrer with some precise drop shots - and matched the Spainaird for most of the match.

But at the crucial moments Ferrer gritted it out, for a 6-3, 6-4 victory in 72 minutes. He defended all four break point opportunities on his serve, but broke Rosol on three of the four occasions that were presented. And Ferrer showed his ability to lift at the vital occasions, accelerating at the end of each set.

"The difference is the consistency," said Ferrer, when asked about the top 10 and the rest. "I am a top 10 player, who is playing always a good level. Maybe the other ones are more up and down."

Ferrer, who will face Jack Sock tomorrow, also doesn't dwell on errors, or get down on himself.

"[If I lose concentration] I always try to forgot the last point or last game and focus on the moment,"said Ferrer. "I try to accept my mistakes and be in the moment, in the point."

Ferrer remains in contention for a fifth Auckland title but the other former champion remaining in the field, John Isner, departed today after a 6-7, 6-2, 3-6 loss to Roberto Bautista Agut.

The eighth seeded Spainard is the type of player that flies under the radar but he outlasted the two time defending champion today. Isner has reached world No 11 but remains one dimensional; if he gets into an extended rally he can be vulnerable, especially off the backhand wing.

Isner had won their previous two encounters and sent down 17 aces in another impressive display on serve. But world No 25 Bautista Agut took out the tiebreak - not many can say that against the American - and then grew in strength as Isner visibly tired in the final set.

In doubles action fourth seeds Eric Butorac and Scott Lipsky beat compatriots Donald Young and Nicholas Monroe 6-2, 4-6, 10-5.

- NZ Herald

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