New York - Rafael Nadal hailed close friend David Ferrer as
"a good guy" and "loved on the tour" after sending his
Spanish compatriot into Grand Slam retirement at the US Open on Monday.
Ferrer, 36, had already announced that New York would represent
his final major before quitting for good on home ground in Madrid next year.
His career at the majors ended sooner than he would have
wanted when he was forced to quit with a left leg injury leading with a break
in the second set.
But the former world number three left Arthur Ashe Stadium
with no regrets.
"It was special because I finish my last Grand Slam
playing in the centre court with Rafael, a very good friend.
"Sad because I can't finish the match. But it's not a
problem. I am a lucky man."
Ferrer, now ranked at 148, shared some of his greatest
moments in the same arena as Nadal.
He beat the world number one in New York - just one of six
wins in 31 meetings between the two - on his way to a maiden Slam semi-final
Nadal got the better of him in the 2013 Roland Garros final
which was Ferrer's only run to the championship match at the majors.
"We shared a lot of important moments in our
careers," said Nadal, a fellow Davis Cup winner for Spain, after his 6-3,
3-4 win on Monday.
"He's a good friend, a very good person. When he
decides to say goodbye, the tour will miss him. The tour loves him."
Nicknamed 'The Bulldozer' for his unrelenting and dogged
defence, Ferrer endured numerous highs and lows in his career.
He was locked in a cupboard by a disenchanted coach while he
was once so frustrated by the state of his own game, that he briefly quit
tennis to work on a building site.
But he collected 27 career titles and helped Spain to the
Davis Cup in 2008, 2009 and 2011.
This year, his passion for the Davis Cup burned as bright as
ever when he defeated Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-5 in the fifth set of
the deciding rubber of their quarter-final.
At almost five hours, it was a special victory coming in his
home town of Valencia.
But with his ranking at a 16-year low and with a baby son
Leo born this year, Ferrer now has other commitments.
"I was happy when I was drawn to play Rafa here, it was
a gift play centre court with him.
"My family were here, my wife, my son, close friends.
For me, playing my last Grand Slam with the chance to see them here, it was a