Archive for July 1st, 2012
David Ferrer was born on April 2nd, 1982 in Valencia, Spain. Ever since he turned a professional at the turn of the century, the clay court specialist has lived under the shadow of his fellow countryman Rafael Nadal. And it’s not as if the second best ranked Spaniard hasn’t been doing well for himself. On the contrary, he has proved his worth especially in the last three years. Let’s not forget for a moment there that he reached the semifinals of the 2012 French Open, proving that he’s strong hold is set over the red crushed brick clay of Paris, but he has also has had success on hard courts. For instance, Ferrer made it to the semifinals of the the 2007 US Open and 2011 Australian Open. As a bonus, perhaps, he was part of the Spain Davis Cup team that won the finals in 2008, 2009 and 2011. But despite holding some good numbers and plenty of tournament wins, his resume is just not in the same league as that of one Rafael Nadal.
Even though the grass courts of the All English club have by no means been his forte, this year, the 30-year-old Spaniard is proving that his got what it takes to become a real contender down the stretch. Ranked 6th in the World by the ATP Rankings, Ferrer has placed himself in a very interesting position this year at Wimbledon. He managed to defeat Andy Roddick 2-6, 7-6(8), 6-4, 6-3 in the third round of the latest Grand Slam, but he also did so, just two days after Rafael Nadal suffered one of the most exciting upsets we’ve seen in years when Nadal was stunned by Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic 6-7(9-11), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. Rosol was certainly more powerful and his very strong serve proved to be a little too much for the Spaniard who just couldn’t keep up with the Czech’s rhythm. Ferrer will now have to face the argentine Juan Martin del Potro in the fourth round of the 2012 Wimbledon Championships.
Both Ferrer and Roddick arrived to the third round with a strong run. They both had had a good run at ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Eastbourne respectively, and even though Ferrer had a short 6-4 advantage in their head to head history, they had never played together over a grass court. Roddick took an early lead in the first set with his strong serve and managed closed the first set under 23 minutes of play. Still, in the second set, Ferrer got his fighting gloves on and began attacking the net. Soon enough, he had the game turning his way with his masterful groundstroke that kept Roddick holding back in the baseline and playing a very defensive match.
Now, if Ferrer manages to defeat del Potro in the fourth round, he will be advancing to the quarterfinals for the first time ever in Wimbledon. Sure enough he’s got an 8 game winning streak behind him as a motivational boost, but it seems that the 2009 US Open winner is going to be a hard bone to chew on. “It’s going to be going to be so difficult. To win him I will have to play very consistent. Is very important my first percentage with my serve. I will have to play very, very good,” Ferrer said of his game against DelPo. Let’s see what happens for now as these two guys take the courts tomorrow.
Somehow the style has changed, and it has changed a lot, but at the end of the day, the Spanish team is just as effective as it has ever been. This is not the fast paced, one pass, showy football that took them to win the EURO 4 years ago, nor is this the elegant and offensively striking game that won them the World Cup in South Africa 2010. In the UERO 2012 Spain has again qualified into the Finals after defeating the Portuguese in a long game that had to go over to the penalty kick shootout to call a winner. After 90 minutes of regulation time and 30 minutes in the extra, neither team was able to break the solid defense and score.
At the end, once the shootout had been completed, Spain won by a 4-2 margin after the penalty kicks and qualified to their third straight mayor tournament final. They will meet the winner between Germany and Italy in the other semifinal. The EURO 2012 Final will be played on July 1st in the Olympic Stadium of Ukraine. But let’s go back to talk about the game and this new defensive approach introduced by the Spaniard head coach Vicente del Bosque. Against Portugal, the defending champions managed only one quality shot in regulation time, and it wasn’t until the extra time that the Spaniards actually began to show some offensive potential with great shots from Cesc Fabregas, Andrés Iniesta and Xabi Alonso.
The shootout went as follow: Xabi had the first attempt saved by Rui Patricio before Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas saved Joao Moutinho’s shot to keep it even. Iniesta, Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos then all scored for Spain, while Pepe and Nani answered for Portugal. Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t get a chance to shoot his penalty.
In the postgame press conference Spain’s coach Vicente del Bosque had a clear overview of what had happened in the game. “Both teams were stronger in defense in the first 90 minutes, but that balance was broken in extra time”. This seemed to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s best chance of reaching the same degree of success that he has achieved at club level with the National team, but it really seems that when the spotlights were on and he had to really be able to deliver for Portugal, he was just not at his best. He was overshadowed by the solid defense that the Spaniards put up, and even though he had a couple of good looks at the goal, all of his shots went a bit too high.
Del Bosque changed his game plan and without much of a warning he finally opted to place a single striker up in the front. Many would have guessed that the job would be given to Fernando Torres, but instead, Del Bosque opted to start Alvaro Negredo. After 55 minutes of play, he was replaced by Fabregas. The Portuguese on the other hand, got plenty of help from Rui Patricio, but they certainly didn’t get the help they expected out of Cristiano Ronaldo. “I think we were better in the first 90 minutes. Then in extra time we were less efficient,” Bento said about the Portuguese performance in the semifinals. “When we couldn’t take advantage of our opportunities, Spain got stronger.”