Competing in his 11th successive Australian Open and 41st consecutive Grand Slam, you could excuse Spain’s David Ferrer for having slightly weary legs.
However, the 30-year-old is yet to show any signs of slowing down, as he powered through his first round encounter at Australian Open 2013 with a straight-sets 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory over Belgium’s Oliver Rochus.
With an impressive 76 notches on his belt, Ferrer recorded the most number of wins by any player on the ATP tour in 2012, and on the back of his success in Auckland last week, has already chalked up an impressive eight victories this season.
Following the withdrawal of compatriot and current world No. 4 Rafael Nadal, Ferrer enters Australian Open 2013 as the highest-ranked Spaniard.
But according to the man himself, there’s no extra focus from his home country.
“Of course Rafael is more important because he is the best Spanish player in history ... but (attention-wise) there’s nothing special,” he said.
“I am only focused on me, my tennis and my team ... I always I try to do my best and to fight.”
Renowned for his workmanlike tennis, the fourth seed did it relatively easily against a willing but ultimately out-gunned Rochus.
It was an uphill battle for the diminutive Rochus, who fought hard but was unable to match the superior court coverage and weight-of-shot of his opponent.
Searching for his first Grand Slam singles win since last year’s Australian Open, Rochus saved three break points in his opening two service game before the weight of pressure finally told, as Ferrer broke through to take a 3-1 lead.
However the 31-year-old Rochus, who reached a career high of world No. 24 in 2005, began to find his range from the baseline and rallied with a break back.
But in typically determined fashion, Ferrer responded by lifting a gear to take the set in 6-3 in 35 minutes.
The second set was almost a carbon copy of the first, with both players trading early breaks of serve until Ferrer, yet again, pulled away towards the latter stages.
An ill-timed a net cord off the racquet of Rochus sent a groundstroke wide, giving Ferrer a 5-4 advantage – he then went on to close it out 6-4 and take a two set lead.
It was then all one-way traffic in the third set. Ferrer secured a double break to claim the set 6-2, extending his overall head-to-head record against Rochus to 8-2.
He will now meet Tim Smyczek in the second round, after the American toppled the big-serving Ivo Karlovic in straight sets 6-4 7-6(5) 7-5.