PostHeaderIcon The Sony Ericsson Open Practice Courts: The Intensity Of David Ferrer

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I had just completed my rounds of the practice courts and was heading towards the Lindt chocolate booth (air-conditioning and chocolate: what more could you ask for?) when a small group led by two security personnel passed by, walking back towards the courts. The man at the center of the group was none other than World No. 5 David Ferrer.

Ferrer is one of the hardest-working men on the ATP tour, in large part because that’s what is needed for him to successfully compete with the larger guys. Measuring 5’ 9” and weighing in at 160 lbs., it’s tough for him to generate the same power as guys who are taller and stronger. To make up for this deficit, David has made himself as fit as possible, pushing his body to the limit in order to maximize the power in his smaller frame.

His intense training also provides enhanced stamina, giving him a better chance at exploiting any lack of fitness in his opponents. The strategy has worked perfectly, cementing Ferrer in the Top 10 since the end of 2010. He has a hard time imposing his game on the top four guys (Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray), but they all have a lot of respect for what he brings to the table. They might beat him, but it won’t be easy!

 

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What are the training methods that produce such a tireless and dogged competitor? As David walked by, I realized that this was my opportunity to find out. I turned around and joined the parade that accompanied his brisk walk to the practice court.

First things first, as David started his warm-up with laps around the court. Running, as part of his practice and match warm-up, allows him to sink his teeth into a match from the very first point. Novak Djokovic comment on this after their quarterfinal match: “Before the match you see him, 20 minutes, he’s like nonstop running around before going to the court. He’s so warmed up, and, you know, he makes you warm up better because you know that in the first point he’s going to go for his shots always”.

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Afterwards, David warmed up his shoulders by using a resistance band with his trainer. Many players use these bands as part of their pre-tennis warm-up to help prevent shoulder injuries. Once the hitting began, I understood how necessary this step was for David as he ramped up quickly to hitting full-force groundstrokes.

David practiced every shot in his repertoire (serve, forehand, backhand, forehand volleys, backhand volleys, and finally overheads). He hit each shot from all areas of the court, sometimes looking to sustain the rally, at other times going for the winner. His ability to sustain rallies is incredible! He never expects to miss a shot, and his disgust at doing so was evident the few times it happened.

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It was an especially hot and humid day at Crandon Park during his practice, but you couldn’t tell from his demeanor. He remained intense throughout, not bothered in the least by the heat from the first ball to the last. After the hitting session was complete, David ended his workout with several sets of abdominal exercises in varying body positions. Yes, this was his “cool down”.

At least now there’s no need to wonder. After watching this practice, I know exactly what makes David Ferrer such a fierce competitor! BTW, I skipped the chocolate booth afterward.

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