RIO DE JANIERO -- No. 9 David Ferrer continued his strong start to the season by defeating Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-3 Sunday to win the Rio Open. The win marks Ferrer's 23rd ATP title and his second title in three tournaments this year. He kicked off his season with a title at the Qatar Open and made the fourth round of the Australian Open. Seeded second in Rio, Ferrer lost just one set all week.
A day after snapping Rafael Nadal's 52-match win-streak in ATP semifinals on clay, Fognini struggled to find his best form from the baseline, spraying 17 unforced errors to seven winners in the first set. Ferrer kept things much cleaner by hitting six unforced errors to four winners. With a set in pocket, Ferrer quickly built a 5-1 lead in the second before closing it out in one hour and 24 minutes to extend his record against the Italian to 8-0.
"When you lose a final you are always disappointed but it was a big week for me," Fognini said. "Yesterday I beat Rafa and he's the best on this surface. But during the week I made a lot of work [for myself], both mentally and physically, because I was staying on the court a long time. I think today I was not fresh. I was staying on the court a long time, more than David. To be 100 percent [and win] against David is difficult. Imagine in this condition. It was more than difficult."
Highlights from Ferrer's dominant performance below:
After years firmly in the ATP top 10, Ferrer finished the 2014 season at No. 10, his lowest ranking since 2010. He hired a new coach in Francisco Fogues during the off-season and the pair has worked to make small adjustments to Ferrer's game, including a technical adjustment on his serve. "This year maybe I am more quiet on my serve," Ferrer told SI.com. "I am happy with my new coach, Francisco Fogues. I worked hard, but I always work hard. So maybe that's not the difference. But maybe I'm more quiet."
Against Fognini, Ferrer served at 64 percent and won 65 percent of his first serve points and a high 67 percent on his second serve. He also credits Fogues with adding a more aggressive game plan. It's rare to see a top player into his 30s continue to tinker with technique, but from Ferrer's perspective it was now or never.
"I am 32 years old and in one month I will be 33 years old," he said. "I am in a good moment. I want to do my best and try to be with the best in the world. When I win one tournament it's a special moment for me because maybe it will be my last. Now when I go to play a center court or an important court I am just trying to just enjoy the moment."
Though he has the 2016 Olympics in his sights, Ferrer knows his time on tour is winding down. "I am not thinking about the end but I know the end is closer than the beginning. I am only focused in the moment, to be enjoying my moment."
"The Olympics are a good goal," Ferrer said. "But it's going to be very difficult because in Spain we have very good tennis players. But it's a good goal. I will try to do my best to be there. I have more possibilities that it's going to be my last Olympic games."
Ferrer will head to Acapulco for next week's Mexican Open, which he has won three times when it was held on clay. He is the No. 2 seed behind Kei Nishikori.
"The last year I think I did a good year," Ferrer said. "I finished the year No. 10. But there are younger players like Kei Nishikori, Marin Cilic won a Grand Slam, Stan Wawrinka, Grigor Dimitrov. In the end it's more difficult to be there with the best players of the world. Last year I finished No. 10. I did my best, I tried to be there. Finally I was able to play a match at the World Tour Finals in London. Now it's another year and the past is finished. It's not important. I only focus on the moment."