...David Ferrer's been here for years.
In fact less than twelve months ago he was ranked fourth in the world. He'd hit a career high after reaching the semifinals at the 2007 U.S. Open and the finals at the Tennis Masters Cup. He followed it up with championship trophies in Valencia and the Netherlands.
But then a series of early round exits in Paris, Madrid and Beijing -- among others -- brought him down to #12 by year-end. A few months ago I would have argued he was on the way out -- I was livid that he held onto a top-ten ranking even as he faltered through the summer, losing matches to players barely ranked in the double-digits.
This year, however, we're beginning to see signs of the old Ferrer. Though he hasn't yet triumphed over a higher-ranked player, he has made it to the semis in Johannesburg and the finals in Dubai. So far in Barcelona, he's come within two matches of the championship -- he ended Potito Starace's best tournament run in two years and took out fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo, who's already taken home trophies in Brazil and Argentina this year.
In the semis David will face Chile's Fernando Gonzalez, who impressively took out the second-seeded Fernando Verdasco after more than two hours of play. With just forty ranking points separating them, it's sure to be a tough match -- Gonzalez holds a 4-2 margin over Ferrer, but you know both are going to be fighting on Saturday.
Whatever the results, it's going to make for a great battle on the clay!