Originally Posted by Nathaniel_Near
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.
Ferrer is great on fast surfaces too though because his footwork is so good and he takes the ball so early, I think his current rank has a lot more to do with his improvement as a player than the slowing of the courts (though that may be a factor as well). At the end of 2012 he thrashed Berdych (one of the players you would probably consider superior to him) in Davis Cup on a lightning quick indoor hard court, he also beat Del Potro at WTF again on an indoor hard court.