Originally Posted by President
Ferrer returns exceptionally well, on the same level as Murray and Djokovic. He has phenomenal pure footwork, the best in the game along with Federer and Nadal (and better than Djokovic and Murray) and great speed and athleticism (though not as much as players like Djokovic and Nadal). He takes the ball pretty early, which enables him to frustrate bigger and more powerful opponents like Del Potro, and has a very good forehand which he can place on a dime along with a rock solid backhand. Add to that his very strong mentality and unlimited stamina, and you have a solid top 5 player.
This seems like a more elaborate version of PC1's post. It's rather interesting how at his advanced age he has found further and further success in his career. He had tremendous footwork and was a fantastic returner many years ago also, curious though how as the conditions continued to become more grindtastic, Ferrer found a smoother groove. No disrespect to Ferrer who is a very good player, but I think he has benefited hugely from a slow sequence of condition changes - much more so than many of the other players around him. The trending ethos in tennis play at the top of the game had also aided Ferrer much in the way that they conspired against Hewitt.
Hewitt was excellent at using the natural pace of conditions to create counter-play. He also had exceptional passing shots and very much loved a target. Tennis changed around him, and he couldn't adapt and couldn't generate enough of his own pace from the slowing conditions of the tour (whether conditions slowed due to surfaces, balls, prevailing tennis ethos or other and/or a combination of all is up for debate). In the same way, tennis has changed around Ferrer in a manner which suits him tremendously, however he still lacks the weapons and talent required to break through at the very top level of the game for even a finals appearance. Other points can be referred to that were also contributive to the aforementioned eventualities, such as injury and levels of maturity - these exist, but do not undermine the premise of the argument.