David Ferrer's incredible career at the ASB Classic came to a premature end when the four time champion was forced to retire from his second round match with injury.

It was cruel for the 36-year-old, especially given his amazing durability over the years; in 1100 previous ATP matches, the Spaniard had retired hurt on only eight times.

But it won't detract from the memories, where over the course of 14 summers at Stanley St, Ferrer became an adopted Kiwi and one of the most popular foreign players in the history of the event.

1. 2003 - The beginning

As a 20-year-old, in just his third year on tour, Ferrer made an instant impression. After beating compatriot Alberto Martin, Ferrer shocked world No17 Fernando Gonzalez before bowing out to two-time Auckland champion Dominik Hrbaty in the quarter-finals.


2. 2007 - The first trophy

Ferrer was third seed, behind world No7 Tommy Robredo and Croatian Mario Ancic, among a lineup that also included Gael Monfils, Juan Martin del Potro, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Stan Wawrinka. In his third appearance in Auckland, Ferrer cut a swathe through the field. He came back from a set down to beat French Open champion Gaston Gaudio in the first round, and prevailed in a three-set semifinal battle against Mardy Fish, before sweeping compatriot Robredo 6-4, 6-2 in the final.

David Ferrer in action in 2007. Photo / Getty
David Ferrer in action in 2007. Photo / Getty

3. 2011 - The favourite

Among his 42 matches in Auckland, Ferrer always nominates one as his favourite. It was the 2011 final, against talented Argentinian and former Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian. "It was my best. I played very well against David, but also in every match [that year] I had a very high level," recalled Ferrer. "It's very difficult to have a [tournament] like that". On the way to the decider, Ferrer survived two three set matches, including a memorable battle with 2008 Auckland champion Philipp Kohlscreiber.

4. 2013 - The untouchable

By the time Ferrer arrived here in 2013, he seemed almost invincible on the Auckland courts. The 30-year-old had won back to back ASB Classic titles, was ranked No5 in the world and had reached the US Open semi finals a few months earlier. He hadn't tasted defeat in Auckland since 2010, and extended the streak in brilliant fashion, topping Monfils in the last four before trumping Kohlscreiber in the final.

David Ferrer in Auckland in 2013. Photo / Getty
David Ferrer in Auckland in 2013. Photo / Getty

5. 2014 - The shock

A strange silence descended on Stanley St on the afternoon of January 10, 2014, as, for the first time since the turn of the decade, Ferrer walked off defeated. The crowd didn't quite know what to do, and the Spaniard would later admit this was the toughest Auckland loss of his career. Then ranked world No3, Ferrer had prevailed in two three-set battles to get to the semifinals, but was then turned over by world No62 Yen-Hsun Lu, of Taiwan.

6. 2016 - The heartbreaker

After his semifinal defeat to Jack Sock in 2016, Ferrer was so crushed he walked straight off the court and out of the stadium. He didn't warm down, and for the first time in his Auckland career, didn't do any post-match interviews. Later an apologetic Ferrer talked over the phone with some journalists from his hotel, with the emotion still evident in his voice. The prospect of breaking Roy Emerson's record of four Auckland titles had been heavily promoted before the event, and Ferrer knew it was a golden opportunity lost.

David Ferrer in Auckland. Photo / Getty
David Ferrer in Auckland. Photo / Getty

7. 2018 - The last stand

Ferrer's ranking had ballooned to No38, the first time he had been outside the top 20 since 2005. He was past his 35th birthday, and had fallen at the first hurdle in Auckland the year before.

There were concerns he was on borrowed time, but the veteran rolled back the years with a memorable run to the last four 12 months ago, highlighted by a victory over Hyeon Chung in the quarter-finals, before falling to del Potro in the semifinals.

David Ferrer

* 14 Auckland appearances 2003-2019.


* Four titles (2007, 2011-2013).

* Four semifinals (2009, 2014, 2016, 2018).

* Three quarter-finals (2003, 2006, 2008).

* 32-10 match win/loss record.