Juan Martín Del Potro finally turned out to be the barrier that David Ferrer was unable to overcome at this year’s Wimbledon. The Argentinean beat the Spanish number four seed in three sets, 6-2, 6-4, 7-6, in a quarterfinal where the signs of pain were visible on each player’s face — Del Potro competing with a damaged left knee and Ferrer with an ankle injury.
The world number eight dominated the encounter with his brilliant service: getting 72 percent of first serves in, winning 87 percent of points on those and delivering 12 aces. He left the court on the verge of tears having set up a semifinal against world number one Novak Djokovic, who dispatched Tomas Berdych 7-6, 6-4, 6-3 in his last-eight match.
“I was close to retiring, I was in great pain at the beginning of the match, but the doctor gave me some magic pills,” said the winner, who damaged his knee in the third round and fell four minutes into the match against Ferrer. “It was a great performance. I beat one of the best, a very tough opponent. I am happy.”
The 24-year-old was nothing short of excellent and Ferrer, who has made a career out of his defensive play, didn’t know how to counteract him. Probably affected by his left ankle, which has left him unable to train in the last few days, the Spaniard suffered to recover shots that would normally be well within his range and chasing vainly after Del Potro’s open serves.
“¡No siento nada!” — “I don’t feel a thing” — he said, though it was hard to know if he was referring to his ankle or his racket, which was hitting more faults than normal.
In 2012, against the same player in the same tournament, Ferrer won using down-the-line backhands, which allowed him to open up the game, making the court wider. On Wednesday against Del Potro, the shot did not have the same effect on the game and Ferrer, with less serve power and less strength, was left panting in his chair, without a break point in the two final sets.
Ferrer said Del Potro has everything it takes to go all the way. “Of course Del Potro has a chance of being in the final,” he told DPA. “He has already won the US Open [in 2009], he’s young, and he has everything it takes to win another Grand Slam.”
The 31-year-old denied his ankle had affected his chances of reaching his first semifinal at the All England Club. “It is not an excuse. During the match the ankle was perfect. Juan Martín was very focused, playing more aggressively than me and he was serving very well.
“I lost because Juan Martín played better.”
The Alicante-born player now plans to take some time out. “I am 31 and I need to take my time. I need to rest for three or four weeks. I’m now going on vacation for two weeks and after that I’ll think about the US tour, which is very important for me,” said Ferrer, who despite the defeat will start next week as number three in the world rankings.
In the other quarterfinal featuring a Spaniard on Wednesday, Fernando Verdasco subjected local hero Andy Murray to a far tougher test than he was perhaps expecting. In his first appearance in the Wimbledon last eight, the Madrileño — who has slipped to number 54 in the ATP rankings this year — took the first two sets off the second favorite at this year’s tournament. But the Scotsman eventually found his rhythm to fight back to scoop a 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5 victory and a semifinal meeting with Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz.