Bienvenidos Senor Ferrer.

Spaniard David Ferrer has been coming to Auckland so long, he must feel like a local.

Ferrer, who will be third seed at the ASB Classic this week, has almost become an adopted Kiwi at Stanley Street.

That is partly because of his remarkable achievements - a record equalling four titles - and also his loyalty.


Ferrer's visits have spanned several tennis generations.

When Ferrer first came to Auckland, Andre Agassi, Tim Henman and Lleyton Hewitt were in the top 10, Helen Clark was starting her second term as Prime Minister, Kieran Read was studying at Rosehill College in Papakura and George W Bush was in the White House.

It was 2003 and world No58 Ferrer won through to the quarter-finals. He has since lifted the trophy four times in Auckland, as well as reaching the last four on three other occasions.

"I am here with my wife [this time], it is her first time here," said Ferrer. "I have very good memories and I like to play here a lot. I don't know how many times I have played here but I hope people still enjoy my game and I hope to [have] a good result here."

Even when he was ranked as high as No3 in the world, Ferrer kept returning, which helped to put the tournament on the map. He's in the twilight of his career now but wants a few more Auckland visits before retirement.

"Hopefully I will play a few more years," said Ferrer. "But I know that every year when I am starting, I will come back to Auckland, for sure."

Ferrer finished last year outside the top 10 for the first time since 2009. He also didn't reach an ATP final in 2016, stopping a streak that dated back to 2004.

But he should not be underestimated. Ferrer still reached five semifinals last year - including a dramatic loss to Jack Sock at the ASB Classic - and made the last eight at the Australian Open.

He is one of only five active players with more than 600 match wins (alongside Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray) and has 26 career titles.

"I finished the season [at] 21," said Ferrer. "The last five or six seasons, I finished top 10 but you know I am 34 years old. It is not easy. It is normal, I know that. I am still enjoying tennis and this year, I will try to improve my ranking but I am going step by step."

Ferrer has changed his training regime - with more time spent on recovery - but still has the same terrier like approach on court. His experience and game intelligence will also count, but he didn't want to discuss a record fifth title here.

"I never think about if I will win the tournament or not," said Ferrer. "I am focused on my first game. I have motivation to win the tournament but I know every year will be more difficult to win Auckland."