Spain’s David Ferrer moved up to joint seventh in the race for a place at the season-ending World Tour Finals with a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 win over American Steve Johnson in the Austrian Open final on Sunday.
The 33-year-old Spaniard added a 26th title to his career collection and joined Roger Federer on five titles this season. Only world number one Novak Djokovic, with nine, has more trophies to his name in 2015.
Ferrer, the 2014 Vienna finalist against Andy Murray, joined Kei Nishikori in provisional seventh spot in the race for one of two places remaining in the eight-man field for the London season finale from November 15-22. However, Nishikori’s chances of qualifying are looking slim after he withdrew from next week’s Basel event due to injury.
“This is a fantastic victory after a tough final,” said Ferrer. “I’m not qualified yet but I’m fighting for a place in London. I’ll go to (his hometown of) Valencia next week and really try to qualify for the year-end finals.”
Ferrer set up three match points in the third set with his seventh ace after a break in the previous game and converted on his first opportunity against Johnson. The last Spaniard to win in Vienna was Feliciano Lopez in 2004.
But Ferrer had to work hard in his 51st career final, dropping the opening set but turning the tables with his characteristic persistent play in the second. He took a 3-1 lead as he ended a run of three breaks of service but could not wrap up the set early as Johnson saved a set point in the ninth game.
Ferrer levelled at a set each on his fifth set point and set the stage for a solid decider.
The top seed earned the break he needed for 6-5 before finishing off the contest on the first of three match points after two and a quarter hours.
It was Ferrer’s 52nd match win of 2015. “It’s been a unbelievable season,” added the Spaniard whose campaign had been badly hit by an elbow injury. “I’ve won five tournaments and that is after being out injured.
“It was tough to beat Steve, he has a really good serve and played very aggressively. I had to be very focused on the important points, I think my experience helped me win today.
“I feel I’ve come back well. Of course I’m still not qualified for London but I took a big step today. I’m very satisfied.”