Rafael Nadal: David Ferrer stunned as world number 1 keeps getting better

Rafael Nadal enjoyed a supreme year in 2019 and David Ferrer was taken aback by his success, calling it the Spaniard’s best-ever season on the ATP Tour.

Rafael Nadal is still getting better and tennis fans should appreciate his talents over his final years on the ATP Tour, according to David Ferrer.

Ferrer was amazed as his fellow Spaniard completed a superb run of form by guiding their country to victory in the Davis Cup Finals last month, winning all eight rubbers across singles and doubles.

That came after Nadal had earned the year-end number one ranking for the fifth time at the age of 33, having won a record 12th French Open along with a fourth US Open crown.

In terms of Grand Slam results, 2019 was Nadal’s best year since 2010 and some, including Ferrer, believe it was actually his best-ever season due to the Davis Cup heroics and his all-round performances.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Ferrer explained his astonishment at the ability of Nadal to continue improving late into his career after a magnificent 12 months, calling his former rival “a superhero”.

Ferrer said: “The thing with Rafa is that he is still improving his game. He is a superhero.

“People must enjoy Rafa over the next few years because it will be very difficult to see the like of him again.

“Rafa is just unbelievable, to finish as the number one player in the world, playing amazing tennis, winning all the matches at the Davis Cup.

“It’s maybe the greatest-ever season that I’ve seen from him.

“Rafa, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are all very special tennis players.

“I am really happy to see him, Roger and Novak all still playing at such a high level.”

Ferrer lost 26 of his 32 meetings with Nadal in his tennis career, but beating him six times is still an achievement few players have enjoyed.

One of the 26 defeats came in the 2013 French Open final, where Nadal triumphed 6-3 6-2 6-3, so he knows how ruthless the King of Clay can be on the big occasions.

Roland Garros glory will be firmly in Nadal’s sights again in 2020, though next month’s Australian Open will presently be the focus of his preparation for the new season. It is a major he has only won once before, way back in 2009.

Ferrer expects the big three to be prominent in majors once more next year, although he thinks someone from the group of the game’s younger stars will have a strong chance of claiming at least one of the four Grand Slams.

The players he named were Stefanos Tsitsipas, Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, Alex de Minaur and Jannik Sinner.

He went on to add: “There are young tennis players who are coming through winning important tournaments.

“Next year I’m sure that one of the Next Gen will get a chance to win one of the Grand Slams because Tsitsipas recently won the ATP Finals and this tournament is like a Grand Slam, so we will see.

“Rafa, Roger and Novak have won everything and they are still winning. They still have the motivation to be there and to be able to win the Grand Slams.”

Tsitsipas in particular has been heavily tipped following his ATP Finals win in London, though the likes of Alexander Zverev and Denis Shapovalov, who were not named by Ferrer, will also be hoping to be in the mix.

The big three are still close to their peaks and desperate to add to their Grand Slam tallies, with Federer’s record of 20 under threat.

With the next group of players steadily closing the gap, 2020 could be the year where we see a different winner for the first time since Stan Wawrinka’s US Open triumph in 2016.

But based on this year, it is Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic who remain the players to beat, providing they do not go into the top tournaments with any injury concerns.