Tennis: Fan-favourite David Ferrer retires after Madrid defeat

David Ferrer.
David Ferrer. Photo credit: Reuters

The farewell tour of Spanish tennis star David Ferrer has come to an end on his home court at the Madrid Open.

The 37-year-old lost his round-of-32 match to defending champion Alexander Zverev 6-4, 6-1 in 71 minutes.

Ferrer raced out to an early 4-1 lead in the first set, before Zverev, the third seed, dropped just one more game en route to victory.

After losing, Ferrer received a standing ovation from the crowd at the packed 'Magic Box' centre court, then went back to leave his headband on the ground near the net, as Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody' played over the speakers.

He wanted to retire after his home tournament.             

"I'll never forget this day," he said, with his wife and son by his side. "I've been very lucky.

"I've always wanted to end my career like this. I couldn't keep playing at the level that I wanted, but I'm very happy and very proud of my career."

The defeat pulls the curtain on a tenure that saw him reach world number three in the ATP rankings and win 27 titles, including 15 on clay.

Four of those titles were won in Auckland - his first in 2007, before claiming three-straight between 2011-13 among 14 visits to the City of Sails.

His New Zealand reign came to a sad and emotional end, when a calf injury forced him to withdraw from his second-round match against Carreno Busta in January.

"I'm disappointed that I can't finish my last match here in Auckland, but I am positive, because I've played here 14 years and have very good memories of the fans, who have always supported me," he said at the time.

Video then emerged of fans and staff forming a guard of honour, as Ferrer left the ASB Tennis Centre.

Ferrer had 733 wins in 1111 matches, fourth-best among active players, behind Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.