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David Ferrer

Ferrer held down the No.5 ranking for much of 2012, helped by winning a tour-leading ATP seven titles – including his first career Masters 1000 trophy in Paris – and 76 matches.

Strengths: One of the fittest players in the game, Ferrer has left no stone unturned in the quest to get the most out of his game. His incredible focus and consistency allows him to play error-free tennis for large stretches, and he covers the court better than most. All of this means that opponents have to work extremely hard to put him away, and in the end, most don't have the belief or fortitude to do so.

Weaknesses: Consistency, retrieving skills and the ability to grind out matches can only take you so far. Just ask Caroline Wozniacki. And it appears that Ferrer has hit his ceiling as the world No.5. It takes weapons to down the Big Four, and for all his talents, the Spaniard doesn't possess the killer shots – or shot even – to get over that hump.

Opportunities: By consistently putting himself in good positions – Ferrer has reached at least the quarterfinals at his last four Grand Slam events – the theory goes that opportunities will arise. Federer, Djokovic, Nadal and Murray can’t keep winning forever, and should the draw open up for him, Ferrer has the patience and mental strength required to take advantage. He would be the first Spanish Grand Slam winner not named Nadal since Juan Carlos Ferrero 10 years ago.

Threats: The trouble is for Ferrer that the Big Four do win most of the time, and they’re his primary road-blocks on the path to Grand Slam success. The Spaniard, small in stature and lacking somewhat in firepower, also remains vulnerable to bigger, taller, stronger opponents who hit their stride on any given day.

Craig Tiley, Australian Open tournament director
“David is a silent assassin. We underestimate his success. He’s not only a great guy, but he consistently gets to the quarters, semis and finals (of events). He likes this court and plays well here at the Australian Open, so he could beat any player.”

Keep checking australianopen.com for more previews of Australian Open 2013 contenders in the month leading up to the tournament.

Previous SWOTS

 #1 Novak Djokovic

#2 Marion Bartoli

#3 Alexandr Dolgopolov

#4 Angelique Kerber

#5 Janko Tipsarevic

#6 Maria Kirilenko

#7 Milos Raonic

#8 Agnieszka Radwanska

#9 Nadia Petrova

#10 Ana Ivanovic

#11 Kei Nishikori

#12 Venus Williams

#13 Richard Gasquet

#14 Tommy Haas

#15 Caroline Wozniacki

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