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BARCELONA (Reuters) - Spain's David Ferrer has put his strong start to the season down to having rediscovered his confidence.
Ferrer, ranked eighth in the world, has won in Doha, Rio and Acapulco this year and is in the Barcelona Open semi-finals.
He next faces compatriot Pablo Andujar having beaten 12th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-3 7-6(5) on Friday.
“I feel strong and above all mentally which is the most important thing,” third seed Ferrer told Reuters.
“At the moment, I have confidence and a good understanding with my trainer and technical team. Last year I was fine physically but I didn't have the confidence.”
Despite being in the top 10 for much of his career, and possessing one of the best service returns in the game, the unassuming Ferrer has been in the shadow of Rafa Nadal.
Like the Majorcan, Ferrer's favorite surface is clay and Nadal beat him in the Monte Carlo quarter-finals this month.
“The situation with Rafa is the same as ever. We have tough games and he is always favorite, that's the way it is and it is not something to feel sorry about,” said Ferrer.
“We have a good relationship, when we are playing we are rivals but apart from that we are good friends."
Ferrer is looking strong after only winning in Buenos Aires last year and failing to qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals.
“It was a shame not to play the Finals but still it was not a bad year as I finished in the top ten,” said the 33-year-old.
Ferrer is enjoying success in the autumn of his career and, with Nadal already knocked out of the Barcelona Open in the third round, he is well placed but taking nothing for granted.
“It would be great to win this tournament as I always watched it went I was young and imagined myself playing in it,” he said. “Still I will go game by game and see what happens.
“I have been fortunate to have played for a long time and I think that it is down to looking after myself with what I eat and drink and I prepare well for the games.”
Editing by Ken Ferris