David Ferrer is the fourth seed at Australian Open 2013, but you would hardly know it.
Ferrer’s countryman and former world No.1, the missing Rafael Nadal, has generated more press through his absence than Ferrer has been able to garner as, according to the seedings at least, one of the tournament’s big hopes.
Facing Ferrer in this third round match is 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis, a player who is not just flying under the radar but doesn’t even appear to be on the grid.
Neither player is yet to appear in the main press conference room – an indication that demand is high to hear you speak – instead, both have been relegated to the more intimate interview rooms.
But with the media’s focus glued to Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, it does take the pressure off players like Ferrer who are lurking around the fringe.
A semifinalist here in 2010 and a quarterfinalist last year, Ferrer is not just a claycourt specialist. His game is built around his fitness and ability to keep the ball in play against the odds.
Baghdatis, on the other hand, likes to make the play. A fearless fighter, Baghdatis lives and dies by his own sword, or racquet in this case.
It sets up what looms as an intriguing battle – the swashbuckling stroke-player versus the impenetrable wall. And despite the players not receiving the attention they deserve, the match sits comfortably on the Rod Laver Arena bill as the second match of the night session.
These two do have a past. They’ve met on four occasions, with Ferrer taking the honours three times. Baghdatis will, however, take heart in that his one victory came on these very courts in 2010.
Both have fared well in the lead-up to the first Grand Slam of the year. Ferrer has already won a title in 2013 in Auckland and made it to the semis in Qatar, while Baghdatis made it to the final four in Brisbane.
So far in Melbourne Baghdatis has had to work the harder of the two for his place in the third round – a four-set match followed by a five-setter a tough opening to Baghdatis’s Melbourne campaign. Ferrer has fared better, dropping just one set so far.
This should assist the Spaniard; top that off with his renowned fitness levels and already Baghdatis is on the back foot. The Smiling Cypriot will need every ounce of energy his singing and chanting fans can give him if he’s to find a way through the defenses of Ferrer.
David Ferrer plays Marcos Baghdatis tonight at Rod Laver Arena