Lopez fancies tilt at the third major
Buoyed by Queen’s win, Spaniard hopes he ‘can still play in same way’ next week
This year’s men’s singles at Wimbledon promises to be the most open for a decade, according to Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, who is quietly fancying his own chances of a deep run.
While Roger Federer was winning a ninth Halle title on Sunday afternoon to mark himself out as favourite, fellow 35-yearold Lopez rounded off an impressive week on the Queen’s Club lawns by winning the Aegon Championships.
Left-hander Lopez said he is playing the best tennis of his career and it is hard to disagree with that after victories against world No 3 Stan Wawrinka, Tomas Berdych, Grigor Dimitrov and finally Marin Cilic in the space of a week.
“Considering the results of the best players in the world, it is true that it is probably the most open Wimbledon in the last 10 years, I will say,” Lopez said, referencing the struggles of Wimbledon champion and world No 1 Andy Murray and threetime winner Novak Djokovic.
“Roger is playing great. He’s not playing much, but when he’s playing, he’s winning. Novak and Andy, it’s true that they are not playing their best, I will say, and Rafa [Nadal], he hasn’t played on grass for a long time.
“So it’s probably a little bit more open.”
Lopez, for all his elegant grasscourt skills and one of the most devilish serves in tennis, has only made three Wimbledon quarter-finals in 15 visits, with the most recent time being in 2011 when he was beaten in straight sets by Murray.
Last year he reached the third round before losing to Australian Nick Kyrgios.
After a Queen’s final against Cilic in which he saved a match point before clinching a final set tiebreak 10-8, Lopez clearly believes his best Wimbledon run might still be ahead of him, possibly in the next few weeks.
“Tennis is a unique sport where anything can happen. From one day to the other, it can be so different,” said Lopez, who was to be ranked 25 yesterday and will be seeded at Wimbledon.
“It is true that I’m going into Wimbledon with a lot of confidence. Probably this is the Wimbledon that I feel more confident going into it.
“But next week, you know, the draw has to be done. And then I hope I can still play in the same way. Tennis is about sensations, feelings. Winning here, it’s the best preparation I can have. But on the other way, I think you can have a very tough draw from the very beginning.”
Lopez is the first Spaniard to win Queen’s since Nadal in 2008 after which the Mallorcan won Wimbledon.
Nadal, 31, will arrive this time having just claimed a 10th French Open but with no competitive grass-court play, having pulled out of the Queen’s Club event.
Lopez warned against writing off his compatriot, though. “He didn’t play one match on grass for such a long time. But with Rafa you never know, because he’s capable of everything,” Lopez said. “But Roger, for sure, is the number one contender.
Wimbledon, the third grand slam tournament of the season, begins on July 3, with the women’s final on July 15 and the men’s final on July 16.
Spanish player Feliciano Lopez, 35, beat Marin Cilic to win at Queen’s Club.