The Norman Transcript

National Sports

January 21, 2013

Williams sisters pull double-duty

(Continued)

MELBOURNE, Australia —

“She serves first. She’s been the leader since we played back in the ’80s when we were juniors,” Serena said, nodding to Venus, after their win on Sunday. “I’m not comfortable being the leader, I don’t want to be the leader.”

Moving on up

David Ferrer will bypass injured Rafael Nadal to reach No. 4 in the rankings after the Australian Open, but he still doesn’t feel he’s that close to the Big Four of men’s tennis.

Ferrer, ranked fifth at the end of the last two years, is one of the best active players never to have won a major. The Spaniard has been close. He’s reached semifinals three times, including twice last year, but has never been in a final.

The Big Four — Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Nadal and now Andy Murray — have combined to win 33 of the last 34 majors. Only Juan Martin del Potro has broken the stranglehold to win one at the 2009 U.S. Open.

Now, Ferrer may have his best shot.

He’s coming off a career-best 2012 season in which he won seven titles — more than any of the Big Four. And Nadal is absent from this year’s Australian Open because of injury and illness.

After dismantling Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 on Sunday to reach the quarterfinals here for the third straight year, Ferrer was asked if he believes this is his year to finally raise a trophy.

“I don’t know,” Ferrer said. “Is very difficult to win a Grand Slam because there are the top four. In this moment, the last three or four years, they are better than the other players.”

But does he feel he’s closing the gap?

“No, no. I think the top four, they are better,” he insisted.

Helping a friend

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