After ending 2012 with a maiden Masters Series success in Paris, the onus was on David Ferrer to continue to gatecrash the party at the top of ATP world rankings, and prove that he deserves his place alongside the sport's elite.
After a campaign spanning 91 matches and being just four months shy of his 31st birthday, it was unclear whether Ferrer would be able to maintain the same level of consistency during 2013. However, his season began with an encouraging triumph with Auckland, where he defeated Gael Monfils and Philipp Kohlschreiber on the way to lifting the trophy in New Zealand.
That victory acted as the perfect preparation for the first Grand Slam of the year in Australia, but after comfortably making his way through to the quarter-finals, he found himself two sets down to compatriot Nicolas Almagro in their last-eight encounter.
However, Ferrer was able to rely on his remarkable energy to claw his way back from a seemingly impossible position to win 6-2 in the decider, but his heroics took everything out of the Spaniard, and he won just five games during his semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic.
A second tournament win of the year came in Buenos Aires as Ferrer competed in back-to-back events in South America, but he was ousted by the returning Rafael Nadal in the final in Acapulco, as both men prepared for the first Masters events of the year in Indian Wells and Miami.
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Ferrer was stunned in the opening round in Indian Wells by an inspired Kevin Anderson, but he recovered to make the final in Miami, before losing out to Andy Murray in the energy-sapping heat on the South Coast.
The Valencia-based player returned to his native Spain at the end of April for the clay court season, and after losing out to Dmitry Tursunov in Barcelona, he reached the quarter-finals in Madrid, before again suffering defeat to Nadal, despite holding a one-set advantage over the left-hander.
Nadal continued to retain a stranglehold over Ferrer at the Rome Masters, but after being drawn in the opposite side to Nadal and Djokovic at Roland Garros, the experienced Spaniard stormed through to his first Grand Slam final without dropping a set.
However, lying in wait for him was, unsurprisingly, Nadal, who allowed Ferrer just seven games during a one-sided final, but the 31-year-old had given himself a platform to kick on for the second half of the year.
Grass has never been a favourite of Ferrer, but after fighting his way through four rounds at Wimbledon, he finally succumbed to an inspired performance from Juan Martin del Potro, despite the Argentinian seemingly being hampered by a knee problem.
Ferrer would have felt that an extended break would benefit his game ahead of the American hard court season, but it had the opposite effect, and early-round losses in Montreal and Cincinnati meant that he had competed in just three matches ahead of the US Open.
Despite being handed a favourable draw, the number four seed struggled through to the quarter-finals, but he was unable to make the last four at Flushing Meadows for a third time after losing out to Richard Gasquet in five sets.
It appeared as though Ferrer's campaign was beginning to fade away, and that feeling was compounded when he failed to make the semi-finals in any of his three tournaments on the Asia swing.
However, a revitalised Ferrer returned in Stockholm determined to end 2013 on a high, and although he lost in the final to Grigor Dimitrov, it was a step in the right direction for the Spaniard as he attempted to overhaul the injured Andy Murray and finish the year as the world number three.
Another final appearance in front of his home crowd in Valencia earned more valuable ranking points, before he made a valiant effort to defend his Paris Masters crown before being out-worked by Djokovic in the final. He did, however, finally get the better of Nadal at the fifth time of trying during the calendar year.
Ferrer's season ended on a low note after three defeats at the ATP World Tour Finals, but he did manage to hold on to third position in the world rankings for the beginning of 2014, albeit by the slender margin of 10 points.