PARIS (Reuters) - If ever there was a year when Spanish dynamo David Ferrer might allow himself to dream a little it is this one.
Racing into the quarter-finals of the French Open without dropping a set, Ferrer has lived up to his top-four seeding and, with king of clay Rafa Nadal in the other half of the draw, the door to a first grand-slam final looks slightly ajar.
Ferrer cut towering South African Kevin Anderson down to size with a ruthless 6-3 6-1 6-1 victory on Sunday, playing his brand of steely claycourt tennis to perfection to reach a sixth consecutive grand-slam quarter-final.
The 31-year-old Spaniard prefers to deal in reality though.
“I don’t want to dream too much,” Ferrer told reporters, throwing cold water all over suggestions he could finally smash through the semi-final barrier at a slam.
“I am so very happy to have reached the quarter-finals. Of course, reaching the finals here would be okay but I wouldn’t say that I would not sleep at night thinking about it, or I would sleep better.”
A quarter-final against Tommy Robredo will not keep him awake at night either after his fellow 31-year-old clawed back a two-set deficit for the third round in a row to beat 11th seed Nicolas Almagro 6-7 (5) 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-4.
Ferrer has surpassed former world number five Robredo in the pecking order of Spanish tennis, leading 6-2 in their previous meetings but has huge respect for his compatriot.
“It’s gonna be a physical match, sure, and a long match,” he said.
In his five grand-slam semi-finals, Ferrer has lost three times to Novak Djokovic, once to Andy Murray and once to Nadal at Roland Garros last year.
He could be excused for cursing his luck at playing in an era containing three of the greatest players ever to swing a tennis racket but Ferrer is not courting sympathy.
“Tennis doesn’t owe me anything; tennis is one of the fairest sports. It’s given me so many extraordinary feelings,” he said.
Ferrer was at his miserly best against Anderson, offering up only 11 unforced errors in a relentless onslaught that made his opponent look like a fish out of water.
Twenty-third seed Anderson, the first South African to reach the last 16 since Wayne Ferreira in 1996, possesses one of the biggest serves in the game but it resembled a pea-shooter against Ferrer who broke it at will.
Editing by Clare Fallon and Sonia Oxley