David Ferrer is one of the best tennis players on the planet. On Monday he will be ranked Number 4 in the world - at the age of 30 (He'll be 31 on April 2). His ranking makes him the top ranked player in his country. But I bet he'd trade all that if he could turn back time and not challenge a shot that he saw as in and played what looked like a winner. It was match point in his battle against Andy Murray. But he did challenge. He'd made up his mind to challenge and he did. Murray's shot was good and that was game, set and match for the Scotsman.
Instead of hoisting the trophy as the first Spaniard to win Miami he made a poignant speech saying to his fans "I'm sorry." Ferrer was blitzed in Acapulco by his countryman Rafael Nadal and played Indian Wells hungover from that loss.
But in Miami he seemed to have put all of that behind him. He defeated fan favorite Tommy Haas to make the Final and with his head to head with Murray close - 6-5 in Murray's favor going into the match - there were a lot of Ferrer fans who thought that David had a chance today.
And all the fight, all the work, came down to one miscalculation.
It looked to me that Ferrer didn't believe that he could win after that error. Not that he gave up but in a championship match belief is half the battle won. Like the women's runner up Ferrer will have some time to get over what happened during his match. I think the mental pain of Ferrer and Maria Sharapova's must be about unbearable. Both came so close only to run into walls. David's was self made. Sharapova ran into a will stronger than hers. And therein lies the difference.
I said that Sloane Stephens needed to watch Serena's match against Dominika Cibulkova. She should also watch the final Serena played. I know he won't but David Ferrer needs a look at the indomitable force that is Serena Williams. Serena had no business winning either of those matches but she believed that she should and that she would. And that makes all the difference. When Serena takes the court she BELIEVES that she will win, she believes that the woman across the net from her cannot beat her.
No one who makes a WTA Premier Mandatory or a M1000 final gets there solely on luck. Sure you can have a soft draw but that will usually get you to the quarters or semi's. Shit gets real in the quarters and semi's and it's win or go home as an also ran. All that came before means squat.
Let's be real here. Murray didn't play that well but he played well enough to win and become the #2 ranked player in the ATP. The Brits are in 7th heaven for sure but lets see what the rankings are after the US Open. There have been whispers that some of the Europeans didn't play their "A" games because of the looming clay court season in Europe and Davis Cup next week.
But in the end none of that matters.
It all comes down to belief. You can have all the confidence, all the belief in yourself in the world but if someone else has more you're not going to win. You can fight as hard as you can for as long as you can until your body gives out on you but if you don't have self belief you will not win. It's as simple as that.