As he prepares to bid farewell to his tennis career, four-time ASB Classic champion David Ferrer says that the Auckland tournament will hold a special place in his memory.
Returning to Auckland for this week's ASB Classic, 36-year old Ferrer will bid for a fifth and final title at the 14th time of asking since his 2007 debut, in front of New Zealand fans, a bittersweet feeling for the crowd favourite.
"It's very emotional for me to be here again," Ferrer told 1 NEWS.
"It's the last time that I'll play here in Auckland, [I'm] very happy I got the wildcard, so thanks to the tournament's Karl [Budge] for giving me the chance to play my last year at one of the best tournament's that I've played in my career.
"I have very good memories here. Of course at the tournament that I won four times, but outside of the tournament, the people here are always very polite with me, they support me a lot.
"I have very good words for the people of New Zealand."
Ferrer won't be the only one to feel the effects of his Auckland absence in the future, with Budge and his team now having to find a new fan favourite to market the ASB Classic around.
Budge though, says that he's determined to ensure that Ferrer's final ASB Classic appearance is one to remember for a player that's given so much to Auckland and New Zealand tennis.
"When we knew he was retiring at the end of the US Open, we made a call pretty quickly.
"[I said] mate, just come back one more time, lets have a wildcard for you and get you the send off you deserve.
"Thankfully, he decided he was going to do it with a couple of his favourite tournaments.
"I hope we've got the place sold out, and that people can come and say goodbye to an absolute champion of a man that's done so much for the ASB Classic."
Ferrer will begin his final ASB Classic against the Netherlands' Robin Haase tomorrow.