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Understated Ferrer focusing on immediate challenge

David Ferrer of Spain clasps hands with Alejandro Gonzalez of Colombia after winning their men's singles match at the Australian Open 2014 t
David Ferrer of Spain clasps hands with Alejandro Gonzalez of Colombia after winning their men's singles match at the Australian Open 2014 t

(Reuters) - David Ferrer is ranked third in the world, has reached at least the quarter-finals at all four grand slams in the past two years yet is still not a favorite for the Australian Open title at Melbourne Park.

Not that the 31-year-old Spaniard minds. He puts enough pressure upon himself just to go out and perform.

"I don't know," Ferrer told reporters when asked if he thought he could repeat last year's performance of making the semi-finals at Melbourne Park.

"I will have to play against (Adrian) Mannarino, and it's gonna be difficult match," he added of his second round opponent after he dispatched Colombia's Alejandro Gonzalez 6-3 6-4 6-4 in just over two hours on Rod Laver Arena on Monday.

"He's a lefty. He plays very flat with his shots. I am only focused (on Wednesday)."

Ferrer used his semi-final loss at Melbourne Park last year to catapult himself to an impressive season that ended with two titles, his first grand slam final at Roland Garros and finishing the year at number three in the world.

Critics have suggested the poor year of Swiss maestro Roger Federer and lingering injuries to Wimbledon champion Andy Murray that necessitated back surgery have artificially boosted Ferrier's ranking points.

The battling right hander, whose greatest assets are his scrambling ability and fitness, however, said he was unconcerned about the talk about his ranking. Wednesday's match against the Frenchman was what counted.

"No, no, my pressure is for my next match against Mannarino," he added. "I don't care about this, I am number three of the world or number two or number five.

"I know I have to improve my game, and I will try do my best to improve my game."

On Monday, Ferrer shook off the disappointment of a semi-final loss at last week's Auckland Open, a title he had defended for the previous three years, to quietly account for Gonzalez.

The 24-year-old from Medellin did provide some concern for Ferrer taking a 4-2 lead in the second set only for unforced errors to creep back into his game.

The world number 74, playing his first grand slam main draw match, looked to be flagging in the warm temperatures in the third set and Ferrer, considered one of the fittest men on the ATP Tour, was not going to let him off the hook easily.

"The conditions, well, it was very hot, sure," Ferrer said.

"It was important (to) win the matches in three sets.

"It was a close match. In the second and the third (sets) I was a few times break down, but in important moments I played better than him.

"Today maybe I didn't play my best tennis, but I won.

"That's important."

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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