David Ferrer has joined Australian great Roy Emerson as the most successful player in the history of the Heineken Open.
The world No 5 claimed his third-straight title and fourth overall to equal the records set by Emerson in the 1960s. Given Ferrer's form over the past few years and his connection with Auckland, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him set a new bar in 2014 and he immediately vowed to return next year.
Ferrer's relentlessness is his main weapon and he used it to good effect over second seed Philipp Kohlschreiber in his 7-6 6-1 victory. The German had his chances in the match, breaking Ferrer twice in the first set and serving for the set before Ferrer worked his way back into things.
The Spaniard took the first set in a tiebreaker (7-5) and then put the hammer down in the second set to race away with the title in one hour 18 minutes.
"It is amazing for me to win four times now,'' Ferrer said. "I can say this is my favourite tournament for sure.
"Now I want to enjoy the moment because it's very special for me.''
It was a good week, too, for Kohlschreiber who, like Ferrer, has played nine times in Auckland. He might have added more than the one title he won in 2008 if it wasn't for one thing.
"The tournament is great,'' he said. "The only problem is that [Ferrer] keeps coming back. He's a tough guy and a great champion for the tournament.
"I think I played unbelievably well. But it's very hard to play against David. He never gives up and makes you play one more shot every time. He raised his level and I dropped mine a little bit and that's why the second went too fast.''
Kohlschreiber framed a ball on match point and Ferrer immediately looked to the heavens in thanks. He knew what this meant and the Heineken Open has now contributed four of his 19 career titles.
Kohlschreiber really needed to win the first set to put Ferrer under pressure and he played some excellent tennis in a set of thrust and counter-thrust. But Ferrer has built a career around breaking down his opponents and refused to yield even when he wasn't striking the ball as well as he would have liked.
"Of course I will come back next year,'' Ferrer said. "I'm sorry Philipp, but I will come back again.''
Few would bet against him winning again, too.
- APNZBy Michael Brown Email Michael